Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: May 13th 2014
Genres: Fiction, Humor, Mystery
Remember the movie The Shining? If so, forget what you thought about it in relation to Stephen King’s book and just recall its many amazing visuals. Now, turn it into a campy musical, turn it back into a novel and you have Kate Racculia’s Bellweather Rhapsody. Set in the Catskills in early November with a grand old hotel about to be the scene, once again, for a huge conference of high school musicians and singers—hand-picked, the most promising talent from across the country—coming together to perform as one and hopefully catch the eye of either a talent scout or a recruiter from an elite conservatory. If the hotel alone doesn’t ring enough bells, how about the anniversary of a murder-suicide that took place fifteen years earlier in one of the rooms? Or that an unexpected snowstorm of epic proportions hits the area after everyone has arrived, effectively trapping them in the hotel?
Racculia is not a lazy writer looking to turn Bellweather Rhapsody into a band geek’s version of The Shining. Yes, cultural references abound in the novel, but there is also a concierge who is not quite what he seems, a traumatized young woman who witnessed the first murder while still a child, a fourteen-year-old flute prodigy, and Alice and Rabbit, the Hatmaker twins, a singer and bassoonist respectively. They’re just part of a cast that comes together with an abundance of personality, secrets and real life issues. Over the span of three days they careen off each other, bouncing apart but, when needed, coming back together.
Like any humorous fiction there is the potential to veer from funny into stupid, but throughout Bellweather Rhapsody Racculia stays on the right side of the line with a silliness that is vastly entertaining. For those of us who are finding reality a bit of a rough go right now the unpredictability and sheer fun of this novel is a much needed respite. Racculia throws her characters into a martini shaker with a splash of ingenious plot and shakes vigorously. All that’s left for the reader is to sit back and enjoy a lively, delicious literary concoction that refreshes to the last drop.
Many thanks to Eva at The Paperback Princess– her review of Bellweather Rhapsody as one of her favorite books from 2016 is what made me pick it up. I’m so grateful!
Sarah's Book Shelves says
I had this on my TBR years ago and took it off at some point…the whole band thing just doesn’t sound appealing. But, your review is making me want to add it back on! Glad it was the perfect read for your mood.
I was not in band but do love music so that was enough for me. At the very least, I think it would make you laugh.
Shannon @ River City Reading says
I loved this book, too, and so wish there were more quirky novels like this that also have high stakes and great writing!
It reminded me of The Library at Mount Char- innovative in a way I’d not seen in a long time and created a world I didn’t want to end. Much needed these days.
Eva @ The Paperback Princess says
“Racculia throws her characters into a martini shaker with a splash of ingenious plot and shakes vigorously. All that’s left for the reader is to sit back and enjoy a lively, delicious literary concoction that refreshes to the last drop.” I LOVE this! Completely on the nose.
I’m so so glad that this worked for you. Especially right now. I was surprised by how much I loved this book – there are so many ways that it could have misfired. It still has something to say but it was fun to get lost in it for a couple of days and that’s definitely something I haven’t been able to say easily for a while.
Hopefully a sign of a changing tide…
THANK YOU so much for the recommendation! I loved everything about it.
Susie | Novel Visits says
I’d never even heard of this book, but it sounds like a perfect mood lifter! I’m going to keep it in mind for when I’m feeling down. (Maybe on Friday!)
Definitely on Friday, but given what we’re facing you should have a fifth of bourbon as well. We should all be unconscious for that day because hyper-vigilance will be required for the next 4 years.
Oooh, what fun! This sounds like an amazing departure when I get sick of my usual fare – grief, loss, family drama – and need a refreshing break. Thanks so much, Catherine!
It’s perfect in trying times!
Monika @ Lovely Bookshelf says
I really enjoyed this one, too! It was a super fun read, but thoughtful, too.
Yes! And I didn’t touch on that. Damn.
I loved this little weirdo of a book and am happy you found and enjoyed it.
Excellent review! Shannon recommended this one to me a while back, and I haven’t stopped focusing on it since. I’m really surprised I haven’t ordered it yet. So yeah, maybe I’ll do that now!
It is a welcome relief from the negativity and seriousness we face now. And yet, for all its fun, it’s touching as well.