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The Lost Melody

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Member Reviews

This was my first book by Joanna Davidson Politano and will not be my last! I enjoyed The Lost Melody so very much! The setting of the Hurstwell Asylum was haunting and I raced to finish the audio book so I could find out what happened to Vivienne. Amy Scanlon, the narrator, did an amazing job. I've listened to other books that she has narrated and really like the way she does different voices.

Very well done!

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Publication date: 4 October 2022

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The writing is beautiful, and is a great book for music lovers as music is weaved throughout the story. At times this story was quite dark, as we uncover what is happening at the asylum.

Look forward to reading more of Joanna’s books.

Thank you to NetGalley UK for a free ebook in exchange for an honest review.

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“Sometimes when you live among storms, you become a rock to endure the waves”

So I believe I just found a new book obsession...gothic asylums at the turn of the century anyone? The Lost Melody by Joanna Davidson Politano is the perfect mashup of historical fiction and thriller.. This book has a bit for everyone, there’s even some beautiful scripture references that helps drive the overall story arc home.

The story starts with the death of Vivienne Mourdant’s father and the discovery of a mysterious ward he left behind. Vivienne, a gifted pianist, is determined to figure out who her father had secreted away in the Hurstwell Asylum by securing a job there. Things don’t go as planned and for a reason beyond what Vivienne can grasp she becomes a patient there instead.

To be honest I was not fully invested until about 25% into the book. I was frustrated at Vivienne’s actions but I think the author intended for the reader to feel that as the message of learning to wait and just ‘be’ where God has placed you starts to come across. The author does a beautiful job of sharing the idea that all people deserve love and humanity no matter how they suffer or what afflictions others label them with. Vivienne sees the other patients with a tender, loving heart just like God.

One of the main things I enjoyed was the relationship and growth between Vivienne and Dr. Turner, and how God used them to heal each other. Dr. Turner is a good example of how we can overcome our past regrets. The other aspect I liked was the creepy, gothic ‘who dunnit’ aspect of the story. The reveal of the who and why behind Vivienne’s admittance will was something I didn’t see coming at all! The author did a great job of weaving beautiful music and the power it has to heal.

Overall I enjoyed this story more than I anticipated. If you’re a historical fiction fan, I highly recommend The Lost Melody.

It is important to note that the treatment of those who suffered from mental health issues back then was absolutely horrible. If you are suffering please reach out to someone.

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The Lost Melody
A Novel
by Joanna Davidson Politano
Pub Date 04 Oct 2022
Christian | Historical Fiction

I am reviewing a copy of The Lost Melody through Revell and Netgalley:

After Concert Pianist Vivienne Mourdant's father dies, he leaves her in the care of an adult ward she knew nothing about. The woman is supposedly a patient at Hurstwell Asylum. The woman's portrait is shockingly familiar to Vivienne, so when the asylum claims she was never a patient there, Vivienne is compelled to discover what happened to the figure she remembers from childhood dreams.

The longer Vivienne lingers in the deep shadows and forgotten towers at Hurstwell, the fuzzier the line between sanity and madness becomes. She begins to hear the music no one else hears and receives strange letters with Rose Petals between the pages, and untangles far more than is safe for her to know. But can she uncover the truth about the mysterious woman she seeks? And is there anyone at Hurstwell she can trust with her suspicions?

I give The Lost Melody five out of five stars!

Happy Reading!

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Upon her father’s death, Concert Pianist Vivienne Mourdant learns that he left in her care a patient at Hurstwell Asylum. Vivienne never knew of the woman’s existence, yet her portrait looks eerily similar to someone she remembers from her childhood dreams. However, the asylum claims they never had such a patient.

Determined to uncover the truth, Vivienne accepts a job there under a false name. But it isn’t long before the line between sanity and madness blurs as mysterious messages arrive, and she hears music no one else seems to.

A perfect crescendo of setting, voice, and tone trapped between two desynchronized lulls, The Lost Melody is a piece that reflects hours of practice but not quite performance ready.

Let me start with what I liked. I loved, loved, LOVED Joanna Davidson Politano’s voice. Along with Amanda Dykes, they have the most beautiful, lyrical writing I have encountered so far. They supposedly abide by the same grammatical rules and 26-letter alphabet the rest of us mere humans utilize, and yet, I’d swear they have a language all their own. They harmonize words in such an achingly beautiful way it brings tears to my eyes — and not necessarily at sad moments. When those scenes do come, I’m a bawling, heaping mess on the floor.

Now, what I didn’t enjoy. While I devoured the middle of the book, I walked away several times at the beginning and end. I simply couldn’t connect with the story or characters. The romance itself lacked too many notes, making the piece feel unfinished. Due to the dynamics of their relationship and the constant presence of others, the protagonists spent little time together and had to remain mostly at a surface level. I could see them being intrigued by each other, but they needed more time and depth to develop a meaningful connection.

After the air-snatching middle that gripped me by the throat and wouldn’t let go, the ending felt anticlimactic and jarring. I can only describe reading this book as having had two vastly different experiences.

A haunting and atmospheric tale, The Lost Melody isn’t light reading, which is expected given the asylum setting. Pain, betrayal, and desperation are among the themes tackled in this novel. Of course, the message of light in the darkness weaved into its composition.

I greatly enjoyed reuniting with some characters from The Midnight Dance which I adored and was a top read for 2021. If you haven’t read it and plan to, I recommend reading it first. Otherwise, The Lost Melody will contain some spoilers.

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This story was so incredibly intriguing, horrifying and beautiful all at once! And it worked! How often can that be said?!
The life of a woman in times past, was so unlike today. Their rights were hardly anything at all, and their father, guardian or husband had complete say over their life!
This story delved into an aspect I hadn’t much considered, what about asylums? How many women were considered mad for just simply having a difference of opinion, an eccentricity, a disability, any number of things. If their guardian or spouse deemed it so, they would be committed to an asylum even if they were completely sane. How horrifying is that?!
But there is an unexpected beauty to this plot. Amongst all the mystery and unfolding story, we get to see how a person can make the absolute best out of a horrible situation.
It is a story that you will not soon forget, and gives a completely different outlook on what some women could have faced in times past. You’ll get sucked in and transported, and despite the setting, you won’t want to leave.

Thankyou NetGalley and Baker Publishing Group for the complimentary e-arc in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Content: clean
Romance: kissing
Violence: mild (descriptors omitted due to spoilers)
Language: none

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I was enthralled right from the beginning and moved to tears multiple times. Vivienne's character growth and emotional journey were especially soul-stirring and overall, it's just a completely gripping story with moments of humor and a thread of romance, to boot. I absolutely loved it—definitely one for the keeper shelf!

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This book was full of mystery. It had a great gothic feel, a haunting melody and many unknowns that kept me reading!

Vivienne was a wonderful character. She's put through the ringer in this book, yet I loved watching her character strength as she is even being broken and told she's everything that she is not, she finds a way to fight that darkness and bring joy and light to all the areas surrounding her.

I loved the musical aspects of this book. Beautiful! I loved seeing how the author incorporated musical therapy into the story and her afterword discusses it a little bit more in depth. Wonderful!

The other characters ran the whole gambit of personalities and had me guessing who was loyal and trustworthy and who was not. But I really loved watching Vivienne's character interact with them. Treating them as equals and as real people, not just seeing them for the label given them.

There is a sweet love story written throughout the book. These two characters had some healing they needed to do individually but they also helped each other together as well in their healing process.

Content: Clean. Set in an asylum in 1886, so the book talks about many aspects pertaining to that but all of it was written very well and is clean.

I received a copy from the publisher, Revell, via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions in the review are my own.

Happy Reading!!!

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I wanted to love this one. But about halfway though I realized that this one in a way was a sequel of sorts. So even though I enjoyed the story and the characters I feel like I missed part of the story. So I wanted to warn other readers to read A Midnight Dance before you read this one.

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What an incredible book! It starts with a marvelous quote from Friedrich with, '"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who did not hear the music."' In England, 1886, it did not take much to be admitted into the insane asylum at Hurstwell. Indeed, Vivienne, a recognized concert pianist, found this out first hand! The story's confusion evolved into clarity, as Vivenne decides to not only to seek the light, but be God's light. The author did an outstanding job of making the reader be in Vivienne's shoes, and understand her actions and feelings. The reunion between two characters, one as a patient in the asylum, Annike and Philippe, was simply masterful and touching. I couldn't wait to see if Vivienne would be freed, and free to love. It was also educational to see the role of music therapy, as a bonus to this wonderful story!

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The Lost Melody is another example of why Joanna Davidson Politano is one of my auto-buy authors.

I had first read an excerpt from the book last year when I read Joanna's book, A Midnight Dance (one of my all-time favorites) and I was already drawn into the story.

This is a beautiful Victorian era story of famed concert pianist Vivienne Mourdant and her search for her missing ward, one she knew nothing about until the passing of her father.

Her search takes her into a lunatic asylum where mysterious things happen and Vivienne begins to question her very own sanity.

She must rely on her faith in God to get her through this time and even then she encounters doubt. Doubts about her childhood, her sanity, even her identity.

This is a heavy book, but in a very good way. It wasn't scary, but deep and troubling and as all of Joanna's books, it had an air of mystery and suspense. Being set in an asylum it has a dark feel, but it is needed to show the light.

What a vivid portrayal of the circumstances that many people faced during that era. Their desperation and hopelessness are almost palpable.

Try as I may, I am never able to fully figure out all of the mysteries woven into Joanna's stories. I never know which characters to fully trust, but I always enjoy trying! This book is like a puzzle with all the pieces laid before you. Some look like they will fit one place, but as you go along you see where they actually go and piece by piece you see the whole picture.

I truly enjoyed the way she wove the beauty and power of music throughout the book, having Vivienne compare the other characters to different musical instruments or showing their personalities through their tempo.

The secondary characters were wonderfully choreographed and I loved the variation of people she included as patients of the asylum.

The Lost Melody encompases so many things, hope, faith, trust, compassion, humanity, and love. There is a fine undercurrent of romance, but it is certainly not the main theme. It was the perfect balance to the heaviness of the book.

There are so many layers to the story and the characters. It is truly a touching book and dare I say a masterpiece.

There is so much more I could say about it, but each part of the story adds to the layers and the mystery and I don't want to ruin it for anyone. I do encourage everyone to read it and see for yourself the beauty of this story.

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The Lost Melody is a story of light shining in darkness. It is a story set in the darkest of places—a Victorian asylum—and yet as the chapters came, it became truly hopeful, as well.

Resplendent with musical references, The Lost Melody is not just the story of a pianist, a musician. It also provides a glimpse into the history of music therapy.

Reminiscent of George MacDonald’s works, The Lost Melody is a book of contrasts: in characters, in scenes, in architecture, even in temperature.

While not a light read, The Lost Melody is a powerfully thought-provoking tale. Well-done, Joanna Davidson Politano!

Content Warning: the themes of mental illness and the setting of the asylum make this book a more difficult read.

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If you love mystery with a bit of romance you’ll love The Lost Melody!! It kept me guessing until the end. I truly enjoyed this book!

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Joanna Davidson Politano did not disappoint! This book was very well written. As always, highly recommended!

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This was such a beautifully written story with a powerful message. I enjoyed seeing Vivienne's growth as she is encouraged to trust God and to use her talent to help others. I always look forward to this author's books and am never disappointed.

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Can she find what has long been lost?

If there's one thing that I know about Joanna Davidson Politano it's that she will always and without fail deliver an extraordinary emotionally moving tale with the most delightfully chilling Gothic overtones. And, as so eagerly anticipated The Lost Melody was all of that and even more...

There are so many things one could say about The Lost Melody but I am at a bit of a loss as to where to start. My mind and heart were so full and my imagination was so completely captured by Joanna Davidson Politano's latest novel that it's difficult for me to pin down individual thoughts and emotions in a precise and cohesive manner.

If there's one setting that is sure to tug at the heartstrings or freeze the blood in your veins it is a mental asylum in the 1800s. I think in our deepest and darkest thoughts each of us has that niggling little fear that or peculiarities and differences might either be more than they are or they might be misunderstood. That, is why The Lost Melody is simultaneously eerie and in many ways freeing.

Joanna Davidson Politano's storytelling skill has never been more in evidence as she takes readers through the darkness of mind, heart, and circumstances before her characters can emerge into the light. The reminder that there is a reason and purpose for everyone and that God's love is with us even in the darkest of places is woven throughout this story that is as intriguing and entertaining as it is thought provoking...

(I received a copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are entirely my own.)

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FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book. These are my honest thoughts.

This was the most atmospheric, immersive book I’ve read all year. It held a Gothic overtone throughout, which lent a creepy harmony to compliment the Victorian melody of the tale set in Hurstwell Pauper Lunatic Asylum. The musical aspects of the story played well against the madness within. It was a beautifully intricate tale that was exquisitely discordant in all the right places. I was mesmerized from the early pages and even felt myself going a bit mad right alongside Vivienne in certain moments.

There were plenty of shocking twists that kept me guessing and flipping pages quickly. Even the one thing I thought I foresaw from early on was flipped on its head eventually, which delighted me to no end. This was one of those books that had me wishing I had no other obligations than to read, for I was easily lost to its charms and dramatics and the trap that was Hurstwell. If not for work and some post-Wuhan-Virus symptoms I’m still dealing with, I would have easily swallowed this story whole in a single day rather than having it dragged out over a month’s time. I suspect my first reread of it will be one large, satisfying gulp.

The leading lady, Vivienne, was one of the best unreliable narrators I’ve ever read. I cherished her point of view for that very reason. This very much felt like a psychological thriller in certain respects, Vivienne’s unreliability being the key one and the setting of Hurstwell Pauper Lunatic Asylum being another. I would love many, many more books like this one—ones that keep me off-kilter, on the edge of my seat, and deliciously unsettled until the final page.

Bridget was quite the conundrum for me. I truly wanted to love her. In some ways, I absolutely did. She was thoughtful, kind, encouraging… many traits I try to apply to my own persona. Yet, in a couple of other respects, she felt estranged from her own upbeat, inspirational personality.

In the first, she stated, about melancholia (depression) that it “doesn’t matter what you believe about the Almighty or anything else. You can’t climb out. No one can pull you out. [The wave of it] just has to roll over you till it passes, then you stand up and keep going. Until the next one.”

I disagreed with this outlook, because my personal experience has shown me that God does still perform miracles where depression and melancholia are concerned (as well as in other areas of life). I have lived in the midst of debilitating depression that was as dark as a moonless night. If not for God Almighty, I would have drowned in it. Yet, He held my face above the waves and eventually drew me up out of the stormy waters entirely, setting my feet back on the Rock of Salvation (Jesus Christ) and showing me that even in those dire circumstances I faced, I could be content and joyful and happy rather than depressed and sinking in melancholia. Jesus once said that we should “be of good cheer,” because He has “overcome the world” (John 16:33 NKJ). Overcoming the world includes beating depression—Jesus beat it! There is hope that God can help a person overcome their melancholia and depression, because our God is still a God of miracles; He is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8 NKJ), which means if He did miracles in Bible times, He’ll still do miracles today. I stand as a witness to many already in my life and am always on the lookout for more, because where God is, His miracles tend to follow; one just has to look for them. God can and does help people beat depression. I know; I’ve lived that experience; He beat my depression—without aid of any medication—and it has not returned in over a decade. I am living proof of Jesus’s words in John 16:33 and of Paul’s words in Philippians 4:11-12, in which he states that contentment may be found no matter how much or little we have or which situation we find ourselves in. My depression has been replaced by true contentment, thanks in full to God Almighty and His compassionate, healing touch, and that keeps joy in my heart—and the darkness of depression out.

The second of the outlooks that contradicted Bridget’s core personality was that she implied at least twice that Apostle Paul was her husband with wording such as “me dearest Paul” and by speaking of him with the fondness of a beloved spouse rather than with the brotherly respect due an apostle of Jesus Christ. It felt awkward and disrespectful that Bridget had spoken of Apostle Paul in such a way that Vivienne mistook him for Bridget’s personal friend—and I, as a reader, mistook him for her husband. And rightly so, as she referred to her actual husband as “my Michael”—not so dissimilarly as to how she referenced Paul.

I rather enjoyed Bridget’s positivity in such a depraved setting as the asylum, so there were definitely perks about this character. I feel like she would have been my favorite if she were more consistent in her belief in these lines: “… nothing happens without the Almighty’s say-so” and “Alls I know is the dark has lasted far too long here.”

Her backstory did lend itself perfectly to melancholia, but I was unable to follow the logic that she’d find sudden optimism in an asylum with absolutely zero healing taking place at that point. I would have liked to see either more consistency in her perspective or a more clarified explanation for her healing from melancholia in such a dreary, darkness-laden place.

Another small oddity of the book was that among the famous musicians quoted to begin each chapter, there were seven quotes included by the leading lady of the book. Now, she was entirely fictional, so this felt like the leading lady quoting herself rather than using another classic quote from a real historical person, such as Beethoven or Rossini.

The final thing I didn’t like was that the only noted historical figure in the book had his name altered simply because the author didn’t want to use his true middle name of “Kill,” as noted in the Author’s Note. One cannot help the name one is saddled with, but to accurately represent history, it’s crucial that one’s name is recorded correctly. This was very disappointing.

Those few negatives about this book were mere hiccups in the midst of an excellent symphony of heartache and loss, broken people and healing souls, and music and hope all strung together into the beautiful tapestry of a journey well traveled for the sake of following wherever God led, however unusual the destination.

The switches upon switches upon switches in this book was one of my favorite things, and they made this quite the memorable story. The romance in the latter chapters that especially had to do with those switches won back the fifth star in my rating. I also adored how exquisitely the music and faith threads were so naturally woven into the story and characters, creating such beautiful life to this story.

I would love another book in this series (this book is the sequel to A Midnight Dance, even though they were marketed as stand-alones, as they have three or four characters in common). I would love to find out what happens to Bridget and Rosamond and how they continue to blossom in the light of God’s movement in their lives.

Content: nudity

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Vivienne Mourdant is a concert pianist who lives in the year 1886. She was a full of life character, inquisitive and smart. She was very much a prisoner in her father's home, we learn about her years as a young child as she thinks back to her past and when some of her fears began. We start the story with the death of her father. She is finally free, or is she? She finds out soon enough with the debts piling up and needing to be paid. However, her solicitor gives her some startling information. Her father had a ward in the Hurtswell asylum. This she never knew about, and this woman now is her ward. As she sees her picture some distant memories come to light in Vivienne.

Vivienne having lived with a controlling and somewhat abusive father wants to help other women out of their similar circumstances of abusive fathers, husbands, or guardians. She understands the entrapment and her heart goes out to the women who cannot help themselves, even though to the outside world these wealthy women appear to have everything.

In Vivienne's search for this mysterious ward, she becomes employed at the asylum herself. The staff and patients she meets and the stories of their lives kept me turning the pages. At least on the women's side, they were locked up for all manner of reasons, from post-partum depression, death of a child, to minor infractions the men in their lives disagreed with. All of this touches Vivienne's heart even though these were not originally the women she wanted to help.

Vivienne also feels an odd duck as she thinks in music and when she starts to hear a haunting tune from her past in the corridors of the asylum, she is more than determined to find answers.

I could not put this book down as it was Gothic in feel and at times a bit eerie and dark. I also felt for those poor souls who the world seemed to have given up on. Except God didn't. I also thought that asylums seemed like cruel places in history and those that went in became even more lost, if not for those who truly helped the patients.

I was provided a copy of this novel from the publisher I was not required to post a positive review and all views and opinions are my own.

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I know that I will not have enough adjectives or words to give this book the review it is due.

The musical theme that was woven throughout the book was really touching. I love music and have been able to watch music help my dad who is currently battling dementia.

Vivienne was a strong character with the determination to figure out who the ward of her father is.

This book felt very Jamie-Jo Wright-esque and I loved it! This was a beautiful, historical novel; that kept me engrossed until the end.

The faith thread was very present. Ms. Politano did a fabulous job of showing the need for light in such a dark place which mirrors our need for the light of Christ in the dark places of our lives.

I highly recommend this book!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book via the publisher. I wasn't required to write a review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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A fascinating concept, however I did struggle to get into the book. It isn't my normal type of book. It is very well written.

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