I received this book from NetGalley and Booktrope in exchange for an honest review.
A story of forbidden love, lost dreams, and family turmoil.
The first book in a new historical series from bestselling author Tess Thompson, Duet for Three Hands is equal parts epic love story, sweeping family saga, and portrait of days gone by. Set against the backdrop of the American South between 1928 and 1934, four voices blend to tell a tale of prejudice, fear, and love. The Bellmonts are the epitome of the rich and elite in Atlanta society, but behind the picture-perfect façade are hidden moments of violence and betrayal.
After marrying into the Bellmont family, Nathaniel, a former concert pianist who is nearly ruined by his wife’s unrelenting ambition and unstable mind, finds hope in the promise of his most recent protégé. His brother-in-law, artistic Whitmore Bellmont, and the maid’s daughter, Jeselle, have a secret relationship despite their drastically different circumstances and shades of skin. Unfortunately, most of the world disagrees with their color blindness.
All four lives intertwine on a collision course, threatening to destroy, or liberate, them all.
I’m sorry it took me so long to read this book. What a beautiful story! There were parts that were incredible hard for me to read but I think that’s because the book was set between 1928 and 1934…in the south. I think the author did an amazing job of capturing the racism that was so mainstream for the time but she also showed you that there were people even during that time that saw the ugliness for what it was and wanted to change it.
The characters were so well written. I was interested in each person. Both those I loved and hated. There were scenes of violence that had me wanting to jump into the book and kick some ass there’s no doubt about that but I had to remind myself it was just a book and that unfortunately domestic abuse isn’t something that went away or only happens in stories. While reading this book I had to set it down many times because it brought out a sadness in me that was hard to shake. Not good for a pregnant lady already hormonal and weepy at the drop of a hat.
Nathaniel was such a wonderful man to read about, I just wish he would have been a little more willing to stand up for himself early but he made up for that as the book progressed and I had a smile on my face for him toward the end.
Frances, Nathaniel’s wife was a woman I wanted to shake or slap silly and I felt bad about that but she just brought those emotions out in me. She never hesitated to use and abuse anyone and everyone to her own end. I think it’s because I’ve known people like her in my life and because it took me many years to truly open my eyes I wanted the same for the people subjected to Frances and her “I need to be the center of attention” attitude.
Clare, Frances’ mother, was a strong and brave woman. She dealt with domestic abuse and sometimes willing caused it for the betterment of those around her. She was willing to sacrifice herself for her children, those born to her and those she considered to be her own. I was glad that toward the end of the book that she was finally going to see peace for all the tragedy she suffered.
Whitmore, Frances’s brother, was a delight to read. He was a strong, sensitive, progressive artist that was born to the wrong time. He saw past the color of skin and followed his heart. I do believe that was because he was raised by Clare and got the best parts of her from birth.
Mama, the black housekeeper, was the foundation of the house to me. She raised her daughter, Jeselle, to the best of her ability and I believe was always grateful that Clare took to mind to teach Jeselle to read, write and believe. She was a constant for Clare as she suffered at the hands of her husband simply for breathing. There was nothing Mama wouldn’t do for the people she loved.
Jeselle, Mama’s daughter, was almost bittersweet to read. You felt her yearning to be more than “just a colored girl” she was smart, creative and progressive as well. Because she was able to learn to drive, to drive and to strive she knew that she didn’t want to be a maid like her mama. She knew she was equal to any white person and deserved to be treated as such. She tried to resist the love she felt for Whitmore but I was glad when she finally succumbed. The heart wants what it wants even when it’s dangerous.
Lydia, Nathaniel’s protégé, was something like the perfect mix of new age woman and gentile woman. She raised her family and never wanted for more until the death of her husband. She ran head first back into her first passion of music to help cope with his death then continued forward to apply for a summer program that would lead her to an unexpected man and into an unexpected adventure of sorts.
Each of these characters lives cross to create a dynamic story of love, loss, tragedy, and redemption. You fall back in time and follow these people through just a short time in their lives but so much happens you begin to hope against hope that there is some light at the end of each tunnel. The violence in this book doesn’t stop at just domestic abuse. You encountered the KKK, which was very upsetting for me to read personally. I have never understood that kind of hate and am always surprised that anyone could believe in such a hostile and evil organization.
I really just gave general descriptions of the characters instead of trying to tell too much of the story because that would ruin the story for would be readers and this is a story that must be read new from beginning to end. I can’t tell you what opinion to form. I formed so many when from chapter to chapter and am still forming them now. I was glad to see these book is the beginning of a series and plan to read the rest. Definitely a 5 star book.