Sleeping with Mozart by Anthea Church

Church takes the very notion of the classic romance story and flips it on it’s head with this fresh and original novel.

I was a little sceptical when Sleeping with Mozart first found it’s way in to my hands, initially I thought it was a classic chic late story, this not being my style I braced myself for something, I assumed wouldn’t suit my tastes, How nice it is then to be proved wrong.

Far from being another classic chic lit story Anthea Church instead creates an honest and touching depiction of love and all of it’s attending complexities. She does this whilst creating a protagonist, Dorcas, who is charming, endearing and also at times entertainingly eccentric.Church takes a classic tale of heartbreak and gives it a refreshingly new lease of life. She adds the depth and insight very often missing from other books of it’s kind and she gives real heart to the story through her touching and sentimental take on love.

When Dorcas’s lover Jamie calls of their relationship, telling her she is too young for him and telling her that she needs to date other men, in order to see the bigger picture, Dorcas finds herself at a loss. Adamant that he is the only man for her whilst also painfully aware that he has strictly instructed her that they should cease contact, Dorcas, the extreme self examiner and self improver, must pick herself up and carry on.

Following Jamie’s instructions Dorcas sets out on a mission to try and meet and essentially date a variety of different men. This is carried out with great reluctance by Dorcas who only wishes to return to Jamie. So she embarks upon her journey enlisting the help of the hilarious Tanya Wright of Bright lights a self exclaimed dating guru. What ensues is a entertaining series of dates which will keep all readers amused as Church creates a series of men designed to test Dorcas’s patience. I’m sure most readers approaching this book will find themselves relating to any one of the dates that Dorcas finds herself on, and occasionally like me laughing along the way at the witty way in which Dorcas retells the reader of her disastrous encounters.

The story is also set to the backdrop of Dorcas’s life as an English teacher. Faced with an imminent school inspection,which packs an exciting twist towards the end of the story (I wont say any more in case I ruin the story), Church portrays an intriguing vision of life for Dorcas as a teacher. The children within her classroom help add a funny and light hearted dimension to the book with their larger than life personalities. They also rather interestingly provide a novel look into love from a teenagers perspective. And for Dorcas, who sees much potential and scope for confidentiality within her girls, this becomes for a therapeutic way to explore the love she herself has had with Jamie.

Even though Dorcas may be struggling to regain herself after losing Jamie she comes alive in the classroom and it’s in these snippets when the reader can really see what a complex and engaging character Dorcas is. Yes she may be hopelessly in love with Jamie but she is also strong and self preserving and throughout the book she trudges along bravely facing up to her break up. Off course this was an essential must in the story as the sometimes sentimental tone and pleading declarations of love in Dorcas’s narrative can often become rather heavy. It is therefore a skill on Church’s behalf that she has created in Dorcas a women who is respectable in her attempts to survive this break up.

The book is written in a diary style narrative of Dorcas reliving her day to day to life for her imaginary audience; Jamie. She also spends great chunks of the books remembering various experiences and conversations she has had with Jamie and she replays them in her head looking back on these moments. Through this particular style dialogue is sparse. It is compensated for by the long rambling musings of Dorcas,which off course could potentially isolate a reader who is not a part of this intense love affair, but Church writes and depicts their relationship in such a way that we feel deep empathy and understanding for this love.

 The story falls short of being the traditional chic lit that I expected and that I have heard other people describe it as. This is partly thanks to moments of raw and painful sadness that Dorcas describes within the book. I often found myself touched and moved by the depth of her feelings and her true sadness that the relationship had come to an end. Church writes in a believable and moving fashion and it’s easy to truly sympathise with Dorcas. These moments add a heaviness to the novel but also a more frank and honest betrayal of love. The story works because Church harmoniously balances humour and wit with strong, effective emotions.

On whole this novel is an original and sometimes philosophical look on love. It shows how deeply two peoples lives can become interwoven and how painful the separation of this bond can be.

Church steers clear of cliched characters and actually creates within Dorcas an individual protagonist. Dorcas is strong and ultimately brave enough to face the challenges of love but she is also refreshingly optimistic, trusting and forgiving in a world where women seem to have become hardened to love. I finished the book grateful for Dorcas and her open and optimistic approach to love.

For anyone looking for a love story with a new twist then this book is well worth a read. Have you read Sleeping with Mozart? If so what did you think?

6/10

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9 thoughts on “Sleeping with Mozart by Anthea Church

  1. It’s definitely worth a read David, I found it really interesting and unique. What else is on your sounds interesting list? Anything you would recommend?

  2. Most, though perhaps not all, of my “sounds interesting” list can be found in the “Would Like to Read” collection on my Librarything pages: http://www.librarything.com/catalog/dsc73277

    It’s a fairly ecclectic list, with the only trends that leap out appearing to be romance and railways. This probably reflects that fact that I spend about two hours each day on the train. I’m still waiting for a Brief Encounter moment though!

  3. I’ve just checked out the site and signed up, it’s amazing, can’t believe I didn’t know about it! How do I view your ‘would like to read’ list, I’m really not the best with techonolgy!

    You might like this book then if you liked Brief Encounter, it’s all about forbidden love. What sort of romance novels do you like? I could maybe recommend some. I’d love to read some fictional books about or set around raliways if you could recommend anything? I can’t think of any books I’ve read about them which is a shame.

  4. I’m pleased to have introduced you to Librarything. I gather Guardian.co.uk are now offering similar features in their books section, so you might like to check that out too. Guardian Books are linking heavily to book blogs now, so it could also be a way of ‘driving more traffic to your blog’ as media types might put it!

    Going back to Librarything, to view my “would like to read collection”, just go to my profile page (http://www.librarything.com/profile/dsc73277) and click on the “would like to read” link in the “Collections” section near the top left of the page.

    For railway fiction, I would certainly recommend Andrew Martin’s Jim Stringer series of railway mysteries, which started with The Necropolis Railway, although the last one I read was a little disappointing. Edward Marston has also written an entertaining set of nineteenth century railway murder mysteries, which opened with The Railway Detective. The latter features dapper detective Robert Colbeck, a romance element provided by Colbeck’s friendship with a train driver’s daughter, and a sidekick who, unfortunately for a railway policeman, has a strong dislike of train travel.

    Railways also play an important, if largely off-stage role, in Cranford and in Trollope’s The Way We Live Now.

    I like romance novels that are warm-hearted and not overly-graphic, without being too twee or stereotypical. Being somewhat old fashioned in my tastes, I have a particular, and it would seem increasingly antiquated, distaste for ‘the F word’. There was an interesting romance novel being discussed on a recent edition of the Guardian Books Podcast, however, I lost interest in ‘Super Sad True Love Story’ when interviewer and author made repeated references to an aspect of the tale which was described as ‘eff-ability’ – expect they did not just say ‘eff’! They would not have said that on Radio 4, I don’t think.

  5. Thanks for recommending it to me David, since starting the blog I’ve come to realise there’s so many great sites out there were I can indulge my love for reading and discuss books with other book lovers. I’m afraid I’ve been chewing the ears off my uninterested friends till now so I’ll definitely be getting into library thing.

    Thank you as well for the book recommendations, I’m currently in a book group at the moment and it’s my turn to pick a book so I might suggest Edward Marston’s The Railway Detective as I don’t think any of us have read any railway detective novels, excited to try it.

    It’s hard to find romance novels that aren’t too clichéd or stereotypical I think which is why I really liked Sleeping with Mozart so perhaps you will like that aspect too. It’s very unpredictable and a little different from the norm. I’m with you on the ‘eff’ word, there’s a time and a place for it in books and I can’t stand it when it’s used just to shock the reader or be outlandish. It would definitely put me off too. I like romance novels with a twist, so usually something a little dark or perhaps with an element of mystery too them.

    I notice your from the North West on your Library Thing profile, perhaps you’d be interested in joining a book group that I’m trying to organise? I’m also in the North West.

  6. Sorry for taking so long to respond. I’ve been yomping about in the Lake District for the past week and, yes, the weather was as good up there as it has been further south.

    I’m in Crosby, north of Liverpool, so a Manchester-based book group is probably a bit far for me on a regular basis.

    I hope you enjoy The Railway Detective, if you do get around to reading it. I don’t think Marston lays any claim to be a literary writer, but he tells a good story. He churns out books with amazing regularity.

    Do you have a username on Librarything? If so I will track you down there.

  7. Pingback: April Rounded Up and May’s Mission « I hug my books

  8. Hi David, apologises for the late reply. I didn’t realise that you had posted a response back. I hope you had a lovely time in the Lakes, I’m sure you did. I’m very jealous as I love the lakes!

    It’s a shame you won’t be able to make the book group but I’ll keep checking into your library thing account to see if we have read any similar books. I’ll also send a link to my Library Thing profile very soon but it’s not letting me log in at the moment. Trying to get it rectified.

    I’m looking forward to reading The Railway Detective. My TBR list is worryingly long at the moment though. Have you read any good books recently? Anything you would recommend? I’ve just finished The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde which was a great read. I can’t wait to review it on here soon.

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