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Tashi is the story of a young girl‘s love for an older man. The two are brought together by their common love for music, Richard being a composer, she a budding cellist. As she matures into young adulthood, her love for the reticent composer is continually tested by jealousy, physical separation, parental concern, and above all by his unconscious fear of rejection. Through it all she is sustained by support from her eccentric but compassionate grandfather who provides her with the ultimate key to unlocking her would-be lover’s suppressed desire.
The novel draws on a theme familiar to both literature aficionados and opera-goers, the theme of a flawed man redeemed by a woman’s love. Most-often associated with Richard Wagner’s operas, it tells of how an otherwise heroic figure, typically saddled with guilt or fear, is absolved from self-punishment by a woman whose love is deep and pure enough to transcend the most despicable of sins.
TABLE OF CONTENTSPreface
Excerpt 1 - First Meeting between Tashi and Richard
It is early afternoon as she makes her way up the trail that links her parent’s summer house with the cottage just ahead, these two being the only dwellings for miles around. She is aware, although she has never gone the whole way, that the trail circumambulates the whole lake, dipping to the shore on one occasion where a small mountain brook passes beneath a wooden bridge. As all hikers here know, the path tends to narrow in summertime as thistles, scrub oaks and wild raspberries flourish along the edge and compete for the open, sun-filled space. With this in mind, she moves cautiously, raising her bare arms whenever the overhanging shoots and branches threaten to touch her body.
This is her first hike of the summer. After nine months of school in Back Bay, Boston, she is eager to exchange her blue and white school uniform for the tank top and shorts of life in the woods where the grit of the city gives way to a quiet broken only by the wind, rain, birds and frogs. “Yes, it is lonely here,” she murmurs, “but I can use e-mail to stay in touch with my friends. Anyway, I can fill my notebook with stuff for the poems and essays I’ll have to write for English class next fall.” Any doubts she has are quickly forgotten as the path makes a sharp right turn to reveal a white-tailed doe and her two fawns, one of which is nursing. She stops in her tracks, not daring to breathe lest she violate the sanctity of the scene. It is only after the deer move on that she exhales and continues up the path. All thoughts are banished as she is once again enveloped in the sounds and smells of the forest.
A few steps on, she is startled to hear someone playing the piano. The music appears to be coming from the modified A-frame just ahead, the cottage which her mother said has been bought recently by someone from Boston who, hard as it is to believe given the severity of Adirondack winters, intends to live there all year around. Unlike her parent’s house which is only a stone’s throw from the dirt road linking both houses to the town, this cedar-shingled cottage with its massive flagstone chimney sits secure in its privacy within the embrace of a dense copse of white pines sprinkled with smooth, gray-barked beeches. Still curious, she leaves the main trail and follows a smaller path up to the porch where a screen door stands guard against a host of winged intruders. She stops to listen.
Her first thought is that someone is practicing. But it quickly becomes clear from the way the pianist keeps trying out new phrases that he is not practicing but composing. And how do I know that it is a man, she asks herself. The answer comes quickly. Who else but a man, a very unusual man at that, would buy a house out here with the intention of staying throughout the numbing rigors of a Northern winter. But it is the music itself that captures her attention. It has a romantic spirit, uplifting perhaps but nevertheless plaintive in its searching, the kind of music that stirs one’s deepest longings but ends without offering any kind of resolution. As she moves to look inside, hoping for a glimpse of the composer, the music stops.
“Who’s there?” the man queries, rising from his piano bench and coming to the door.
“It’s just me,” she answers shyly, conscious that she is intruding. “I’m sorry that I disturbed you. I really like your music.”
Excerpt 2 - Duet at the Restaurant
On Saturday night, the restaurant fills early. Well aware of the duo’s growing appeal, Tim has taken care to advertise the event weeks in advance. To the attentive listener, the very first piece signals something special as Tashi’s excitement enlivens each movement of her bow, filling the room with a sound both radiant and voluptuous. For the young cellist, it is not simply that she finds the music beautiful. Animating each note is the knowledge that it is Richard’s music, perhaps even music inspired by his not-yet-conscious love for her. With that thought dancing in her head, she plays out her fantasy. In her mind’s eye each stroke of her bow becomes the caress of her lover, the touch of his hand against her cheek, a whisper, a confession of eternal devotion. When the piano enters to support her rising, twisting melody, she feels his body pressed tightly against her own, strong, caring, unwilling to let her fall. Each paired note becomes a kiss, a melding of lips, a confession of hunger for complete union. Through phrase after phrase, movement after movement, the music voices its ecstasy as cello and piano lose themselves in a joining of separate selves.
It is possible, of course, that some of those listening to the pair see through the charade, who sense that the notes heard, while beautiful in their own right, serve to mask a hidden scenario in which two lovers are acting out their mutual affection. Those are the fortunate few. For them, the music is more than the simple interplay of sound; as they listen they find themselves transported into a realm where their own yearnings for sexual oneness, long-sacrificed to the demands of child-rearing and family togetherness, are newly awakened. Their dinners go uneaten, their eyes and faces locked in wordless embrace. If you were to look now you might see hands reaching across the table, self-consciously searching, pleading, uncertain in their bid for closeness, two separate souls struggling to reconnect while at the mercy of a new, unsought tenderness, their reborn dreams still wet and shivering behind the candles’ glow.
Date of Publication: 2009
Length: 317 pages
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