This elegantly constructed novel effortlessly interweaves a number
of intriguing plot threads simultaneously serving up a murder mystery,
a lost manuscript by Mozart and an intricate web of relationships.
The story is told through the voice of Vera, the main heroine of the
book, who has just emerged battered and bloodied, literally in this
case, from a relationship with her ex-husband. Vera is a concert pianist
who has a particular affinity for Mozart and she has just been left
a house in the Azores by an aunt (Aurora) of whose existence she was
On visiting the Azores, Vera is suspicious about the circumstances
surrounding her aunt’s death and comes across a manuscript in
her papers which she believes to be a lost piece of music by Mozart.
The novel cleverly and skilfully gradually reveals clues as to the
origins of the piece by introducing historical interludes which describe
Mozart’s relationships with two boyhood friends from the perspective
of one of these friends. At the same time we are introduced to a rich
cast of characters including Dr Elias (the local solicitor), Augusto
(the handsome handyman), and Alessandro (a celebrated conductor and
The novel looks at a number of interesting themes including the subjugation
and empowerment of women, the toxic effect of religion, and the redemptive
and healing power of music. Vera is on an emotional journey throughout
the book as she gradually moves from crushed and helpless victim to
resourceful woman who is not afraid to take the initiative in carrying
out some much needed detective work, and who recovers musical gifts
she thought were lost. The web of relationships with Dr Elias, Augusto
and Alessandro are skilfully drawn. We begin to see that there is
an iron resolve and depth in Vera in spite of past traumas.
The plot is developed with admirable clarity as the various mysteries
and secrets that lie at the heart of the book are gradually unearthed.
Da Mota very sensibly takes her time in revealing the truth and the
reader is compelled to go on Vera’s journey of discovery to
find out what really happened. There are moments of high dramatic
tension - try the moment where Vera finally confronts Augusto - but
also moments of extreme tenderness and sensuality as we watch Vera
begin to heal and fall for the charms of the handsome and talented
Alessandro. Some of the descriptive writing is very poetic and da
Mota is good at conjuring up atmosphere and mood.
Vera says: “Dawn is always darker before the light breaks up
and the sun rises…..Aurora never saw the rising sun. She stared
most of her life at the dark side of the Dawn”. At various points
in the novel, we wonder if Vera will be consigned to a similar fate.
However, as she finally takes her place in the concert hall we are
in the presence of an artist who is once more at the height of her
powers and, who in doing so, has banished the darkness. The novel
is a victory song for the redemptive power of music and art as symbolised
by the redoubtable Vera. Overall, this is a great read and well worth
Note: The author of this book is a Musicweb International reviewer,