The Ensemble is a great summer read – a wonderful debut about four quartet musicians and their lives together from right out of school to adulthood – what they gave up and what they earned, the love they developed and the family they created. The Van Ness Quartet consists of Jana, first violinist and leader, Brit, the quiet, second violinist, Daniel the older cellist and playboy, and Henry the violist prodigy. Author Aja Gabel skillfully links them together by their shared musical experiences, emotional connections and their intertwined lives.
Through musical and personal challenges, emotional and physical relationships and breakups, private and career successes and failures, this foursome grows into their own as individual musicians and human beings as well as a group, making beautiful music together that just gets richer with age. These friends and music partners experience harmonious relationships along with plenty of friction, but they are committed to their craft and each other to live the lives of professional musicians…together.
This book gives us an inside look at what it is like to be a classical musician and play in a quartet for 20 years…a wonderful story – very enjoyable!
About the author:
Aja Gabel’s debut novel, The Ensemble, was published May 15, 2018 by Riverhead Books / Penguin Random House.
Aja’s short fiction can be found in New England Review, New Ohio Review, Glimmer Train, BOMB, and elsewhere. Her lyric essay, “The Sparrows in France,” appeared in Kenyon Review and earned her an honorable mention in Best American Essays 2015. She has taught fiction, non-fiction, and literature at the University of Virginia, the University of Houston, Sweet Briar College, and Pacific University, as well as at undergraduate creative writing conferences and community workshop organizations. She earned her BA at Wesleyan University, her MFA at the University of Virginia and has a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Houston.
Aja has been the recipient of awards from Atlantic Monthly and Inprint, as well as fellowships from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, where she was a fellow in fiction 2012-2013.
She lives in Los Angeles with her dog, Bear.