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As both historical fiction and a mystery, Belfer’s novel captures readers’ interest when Susanna Kessler’s uncle, a WWII veteran, wills her an unknown J.S. Bach cantata that he took from an empty Jewish house in Weimar, Germany. Originally Sara Levy, music student of Wilhelm Bach, is asked to keep the manuscript hidden, as it contains anti-Semitic lyrics.
The plot moves back and forth between the current time and Prussia in the late 1700s and early 1800s when salons allowed for people of different backgrounds to intermingle.
The novel unravels the mystery of whose handwriting appears on the manuscript “keep in a private cabinet” and in whose hands it was safeguarded until the end of WWII. Belfer did compelling research on music history and demonstrates how Sara and Samuel Levy overcame prejudice to make enduring contributions to society.