Clara Schumann

Clara Schumann

It takes a good author to get me to read a book on a topic that doesn’t particularly interest me.  Louise Marley accomplishes this feat with her book The Brahms Deception.  While my eclectic music collection does contain a handful of album of classical music, it’s usually an afterthought – and when I do listen to classical, it’s generally Tchaikovsky.  Marley got me to read – and enjoy – a book featuring Johannes Brahms and Clara Schumann.  For a reason that eludes me, Amazon thought I’d like the book and recommended it to me.  The price – $2.99 – was right, and I like the summary, so I bought the book.

The plot

The basic plot is that a company has found a way to transport people into the past … sort of.  Participants can hear and see what is going on in a particular place and time in the past, but they can’t interact with the people.  It’s a great way do to academic research on a topic – researchers can get information from directly observing the subject of their interest.

Then, during one such voyage, something completely unexpected happens – and it threatens to alter the fragile timeline.  Kristian North is called in to try to help resolve the situation.  Kristian quickly find the problem – but solving it is a far more complex endeavor.

I love time travel stories that are well done, so this element convinced me to buy the book.


Kristian is the main character in the book.  He’s definitely a flawed character, but it’s still really easy to cheer for him.  He tries to do what he feels is right, even if others may disagree with him.

Many of the other modern day characters are females.  In general, Kristian’s life is largely influenced by the women in his life – his sister, his former lover, the barmaid at the place where he plays piano, and others.  It’s notable how few men make any sort of impression in his life.

Johannes Brahms and Clara Schumann are also a big part of the book.  I hadn’t even heard or Schumann before I read The Brahms Deception, and I knew very little about Brahms.  I ended up hitting Wikipedia a few times as I read through the book, seeking bits of information about Brahms and Schumann.  Not only does this book educate, but it entertains.


The characters moves around through a few different geographic locations.  A considerable amount of the action occurs in Italy.  Some of it in 1861 Italy and some of it in current day Italy.  Considerable attention is given to the sights and sounds of 1861 Italy.  There’s also more focus on the food than you typically see in a book.

While music is a focal point of the book, it doesn’t completely overwhelm the plot.  You can enjoy this book even if you don’t have a considerable amount of musical knowledge – as was my case.

There are also a few instances of foreign language being used – some German and some Italian.  Most of this can be figured out based on the context.


I loved the book and immediately wished there was a sequel.  I tried to figure out the twists and turns, but more often than not I guessed wrong.  I really like the way that Marley handled many of the aspects of time travel, including the always troubling issue of how a change in the past ripples forward into the future.

You could say this is a suspense novel, a romance novel, or a novel about music.  Whichever you enjoy, there’s a good chance you’ll like The Brahms Deception.



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