from my bookshelf: the bellwether revivals by benjamin wood

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this book will transport you to oscar lowe’s life in cambridge, england. oscar works at a local nursing home and has formed a close bond with one particular resident, dr. paulsen. oscar is comfortable with his simple routine of school and work when one day, he meets iris bellwether; they are brought together by the sound of an organ. iris is a medical student and oscar falls in love with her instantly. iris introduces oscar to her wealthy family; her brother, eden, a musical prodigy, persuades oscar to participate in experiments with music. eden believes–and tries to prove, in disturbing ways–that music can cure people’s physical and mental ailments. oscar struggles to determine whether eden (and the entire bellwether family) are completely deranged, extraordinary, or a little bit of both. wood portrays the grey areas in the dynamic between a girl’s romantic interest and her brother, among other themes, including family loyalty, wealth, class, education, and the application of classical thinkers’ theories in modern society.

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“She had pedigree–that much was clear from her voice–and he liked the way she looked at him, curious not judgemental. There was depth to her, he could tell. A kind of unashamed intelligence.”

“When she let go, he felt her absence on his skin like a draught.”

“…he liked he way Descartes treated the soul and the body as separate things. It read to him like an owner’s manual–a step-by-step guide to the mechanics of emotions.”

“He’d got a bad a feeling from that organ house–not the same fear that came over him whenever he passed by the old colleges, but something similar–an anxiety that came from not belonging there, from intruding on a private world.”

“And Oscar would tell the old man his only regret: that he was living the unremarkable life his parents had always expected from him.”

“Somewhere between the first towel Eden placed on her leg and the first free steps she took across the organ house floor, she had given herself the license to trust her brother completely, after so many years of resentment and accusation.”

“There had always been a wilful exuberance about Eden, but that night Oscar watched it grow into something that was difficult to witness: sheer, unhinged reverence for his own ability.”

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