The Brahms Deception

The Brahms Deception - Louise Marley Warning: This review, which includes a summary of the book and my opinions about said book, likely contains plot spoilers. If you haven't read this book and you really want to, you might consider skipping my review. Unless you're on the fence... in that case, you might want to read on; just be aware that my review will likely spoil the plot for you.The description (here at Goodreads.com and likely on the book's inside jacket) is somewhat misleading... it infers more drama and more romance that is actually in the book. And the cover makes Frederika (my assumption) look like a real beauty. Problem is, the cover's dress and style don't even fit the time period!!! And Frederika is anything but a beauty.Frederika, it turns out, is a highly driven, rich, spoiled girl -- reminiscent of Veruca Salt from "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory". Why her daddy's money can't buy her beauty is beyond me. But it *can* buy Frederika her wildest dream: to observe her hero and obsession, Johannes Brahams, on a 2-week holiday in Italy in 1861. Yes, it's possible through this book's sci-fi/technology invention of "remote transfer", a mechanism that allows one to travel to a specific time and place in the past, and to observe. The "Observer" is like a spirit -- he/she can see, hear, and smell, but not touch; he/she can move at will, but cannot be seen or heard by the actual participants of that time and place.Frederika has become a musicologist, obsessed with Brahms and willing to do anything to see him in-person, as it were, and complete a thesis for a doctorate study. She was vying with Kristian North, a poor boy from the wrong-side-of-the-tracks of Boston; Kristian is a musicologist pursuing his doctorate on Brahms, too, but Kristian's real passion is Clara Schumann, widow of Robert Schumann, who was Brahm's mentor.When Frederika takes her stolen "remote transfer" session, she doesn't return, causing quite an uproar for the techy crew and the doctor. All her vital signs are fine; Frederika just never woke up. So Kristian goes in after her. And he discovers that Frederika took her passion/obsession too far -- in her "remote transfer" state, she managed to possess Clara, who is with Brahms on this holiday -- a love affair that no one and no history book ever knew about. Frederika takes full advantage of her possession of Clara's body to delight in sexual intimacy with Brahms. Kristian, upon returning to his body from his "remote transfer" session, is hesitant to tell the truth, fearing that he'll endanger Clara's reputation if anyone finds out she had an affair with Brahms. WHAT??? That is the point in this story that I was hopelessly lost. I understand why Kristian would be so upset that Frederika, who has no morals and no compassion, would possess Clara's body and use Clara and Brahms to further her own obsession. But why should Kristian CARE about Clara's reputation, 150 years later? Especially to a group of techy scientists who don't even care; they could certainly be persuaded not to reveal this fact. And it muddies up the whole issue of Frederika's horrid actions, because Kristian won't tell anyone what happened. He simply keeps trying to go back and figure out how to undo what Frederika has done. UGH!As Frederika digs into Clara's body, she starts to change history. A little song that Clara wrote disappears forever. At one point, the history of Brahms and Clara completely changes, making Clara into a trollop who deserted her family for Brahms and dies a tragic death around 1871, because Brahms wanted nothing to do with her, nor did anyone else in polite society. And the more remote transfers Kristian undertakes, the more time lapses he has -- losing time or confusing time. And the time lapses might be permanent.So FINALLY Kristian 'fesses up. (While surprised, it didn't appear as if anyone in the techy group planned to run right out and publish it - duh!) And they send Kristian back one more time to try to bring Frederika back and salvage Clara's life. Except Kristian finds it much more difficult that he expected. There's a knock-down-drag-out fight that results in Frederika/Clara practically falling down a staircase. And in the end, Kristian must do what he despised -- the very thing that Frederika did. He must possess Brahms' body to pull Frederika away. Clara regains possession of her body, as does Brahms. Kristian returns, worse for the wear. But Frederika never does return; it seems her "spirit" gave up somewhere along the way. The last we see of her, her rich family is taking her away in a perpetual coma.There's a lot of potential in this book... but it's spoiled by the silliest of soap-opera melodramatic plot devises: a "hero" who won't reveal the truth and selfishly tries to fix things on his own until he realizes he's out of his depth. Sure, the story would have been over with much sooner. Oh wait. No, it wouldn't. Because along the way, whether you like it or not, you're treated to an in-depth personal history of Clara, Kristian, Frederika, and to some extent, Brahms. These "histories" are interspersed with the real-time happenings; and usually done well, so that you get just the pieces of info you, the reader, need to continue reading and understand what's happening or will happen next.But overall, I found the book so unbelievable, with such wasted potential and over-blown drama, I wasn't even sure I wanted to finish reading it. Good thing I got a bargain buy on an ebook from Amazon.com!