Bridget Stratton is starting her summer at her summer home in Connecticut, unpacking her bags in the midst of toppling fences, shock-producing electrical outlets, and other signs of neglect in the aging farm house and barn. The plan is for her boyfriend, a successful novelist, to join her, but she’s still preparing a writing eyrie for him at the top of the house when he emails to cancel not only the summer, but their entire relationship. On top of that, her adult children, 27 year old twins, are each dealing with separate crises, and arrive one after the other to stay, bringing dogs and laundry and heart breaks and mysterious changes of plans.
Bridget is a cellist who has spent much of her adult life as part of a trio with her best friend Will, a pianist, and an ever-changing violinist. They started with Gavin Glantz, now world-renowned, soon after the 3 of them graduated from Juilliard, but they’ve had several other violinists through the years. Bridget is also the daughter of the famous Edward Stratton, a well-known composer. Edward loves attention, tends towards pomposity, and has just announced his marriage to the widow of an old friend. Meanwhile, Will and Bridget have such a close relationship that people often assume they’re a couple–but Will, an inveterate New Yorker, has just fallen for a woman who runs the local nursery, and Gavin, who had a major crush on Bridget back in the day, has agreed to reunite the original trio for a special performance.
Musical Chairs reminded me of a Shakespeare comedy–it has all the complexities, quirkiness, messiness, and delights! It’s structured in such a way that all the different characters are each important in their own right and almost certain to show up again later, and as storylines weave in and out the reader will delight in remembering each character anew and tracing their development. It even ends with a wedding, and with all the characters satisfactorily paired off.
Musical Chairs is in some ways a perfect book. I loved it and didn’t want it to end. It’s the sort of book that can be labeled the perfect beach book or airplane book, or fall book to read on cozy afternoons. It’s an excellent read!