If you grew up playing a string instrument, The Ensemble will bring that dusty rosin smell right back to you. You probably knew people like Brit, Henry, Daniel, and Jana, the four characters who make up the titular string quartet--I know I did. Even if you’ve never spent any time with a bow in your hand, though, I predict you’ll get sucked into the cutthroat yet pristinely classy world of elite musicians. This is the kind of book where the shifting dynamics between the characters are the real attraction.
Because how can there not be drama when four very different people walk a career path together for decades? Quartets are collaborative; they only succeed when every person is pulling their weight. When one person is off, or, say, when two people in the group aren’t getting along, it throws off the rhythm of the whole ensemble. And in order to stay together, the four have to make decisions as one, which can be complicated when each person is trying to live their own life.
Although the passages describing music are admittedly a bit inside baseball, if you like literary fiction, you should give this one a go. Also recommended if you enjoy reading about unusual careers, complex group dynamics, and angsty artists making art.