“Book Review: Virtuoso”
Reviewed by Jaylynn Korrell
With incredible characters and sharp narration, Virtuoso illustrates the many ways in which women don’t follow the stereotypes created for them.
In Virtuoso, we read about complex female relationships, their messy and sometimes unforgiving truths, and see ourselves. Author Yelena Moskovich’s second book is told with a sharp tongue and unusual charm, documenting the lives of a few explosive female characters.
Zorka is a problem child, always looking to shake things up, and her best friend Jana is her willing accomplice. As they navigate their lives from childhood to adulthood, another girl Aimée is living out her own story a world away, falling in love with a woman 10 years her senior. We start unsure of how—or if—each woman has anything to do with the other, but we cling to each page as Moskovich slowly reveals their connection in this weird, sexual, and eccentric novel.
“…girlhood was a too-hot cup of tea I had to keep carrying back and forth without spilling and, of course, the ridges of my hands burnt, a banal inflammation, not yet the Great Pain, the starting point. Womanhood was our solution.”
Reading Virtuoso feels like following a bread crumb trail. I was intrigued by the beginning, which starts out with a wife finding her wife dead in a hotel room. And then I grew attached to the locations and the jumps between characters. We go from Portugal to Paris to Prague and America, switching from Aimée’s story to Jana’s or Zorka’s. The story flows in a way where you won’t know where it’s going, and it works wonders for the reading experience. You know you’re going somewhere, because you can trust Moskovich’s smart and cut-throat writing style. And soon, you won’t care about the bread crumbs anymore—you’ll just be enjoying the walk.
With a confident voice, Moskovich lets loose with her endlessly interesting characters, like Zorka who might purposefully pee herself to defy you or just punch you in the dick for calling her the wrong name. And for every blatant act of defiance Zorka displays, her mother winces. As a woman who got the electric chair for being a little off, her only wish is for her daughter not to be weird. And in return, she gets one of the weirdest women I have ever read. The relationship between Zorka and her mother is one of the most captivating ones in the book, though they rarely do anything but argue. They both have the key to what the other wants, but they are unable to access it or provide it. Both characters are raw, honest, and completely themselves, giving a lightness to a mostly tense dynamic.
“…she’d take her hands away from her face and look down at me and say, ‘When you call me your mother, it makes me want to die.’”
The female relationships in Virtuoso vary from wife and wife, friends, mother and daughter, online lovers, and everything in between. All are intense in one way or another, bobbing and weaving before reaching a connected knot by the end of the book. I’m sure you’ll read this book with intensity, and I’ll be reading it again with you.
Publisher: Two Dollar Radio
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