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The Music Room: A Memoir

1 rating: 1.0
A book by William Fiennes

Just after Fiennes (Snow Geese) was born, his family moved into a medieval English estate that included a castle surrounded by a moat. The estate was an inheritance passed down from his father's ancestors since the 14th century. The castle in particular … see full wiki

Author: William Fiennes
Genre: Health, Mind & Body
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
1 review about The Music Room: A Memoir

Biography, not memoir

  • Sep 13, 2009
  • by
Let me say first and foremost that the writing of William Fiennes is quite lovely, as is reflected here in the comments of other reviewers. And I believe it's the reason most have given this little book 5 stars. (Nice of you folks to do so.) There are some flaws with the book, however, that cause me to give it fewer stars, though I do recommend it as a pleasant short read.

My primary issue is that it is, in fact, a biography of William's brother Richard. The story is mostly about him and his issues with brain damage. This is yet another potentially fine piece of writing that would have been well served with editing; there are sections which switch randomly from past tense to present and back again, with no rhyme or reason. I suspect it was originally written in present tense, then changed to past, but the author overlooked a few sections. Also, there are a number of half stories. William's dad broke his ankle and was carried home by the caretaker--and that's all we get, not what happened after, how long he was laid up, whether it affected his care of Richard.

What sets a book apart as a memoir (in comparison with a biography) is the aspect of reflection. Memoirs are not straight narratives ('My Life in a Castle). If they were, everyone would write one, as we've all had experiences that were unique. What makes a memoir, well, memorable, is the author's reflection on his experiences. 'How did this change you?' I want to ask Mr. Fiennes. 'How did you respond emotionally?' Those are the missing pieces here.

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