While a music student in Vienna, violinist Michael Holme falls in love with pianist Julia McNicholl. They play together in a string trio, but when Michael has a nervous breakdown because of tensions with his stern and demanding violin teacher he abruptly leaves Vienna–and Julia–without warning. When, after some months pass, he tries to contact Julia again, he gets no reply. Ten years later, still in love with her, he meets her again in London when she attends a concert he is giving with his string quartet, the Maggiore. Still a performing pianist, she is now married to an American banker, has a child, and because of an auto-immune disease, is gradually going deaf. Unable to resist the power of their past, they begin to see each other again, this time under the shadow of Julia’s marriage and her tragic hearing loss. Julia agrees to tour Vienna and Venice with Michael and the Maggiore Quartet and for a brief, magical time everything seems possible.
A tour de force of poetic, impassioned writing, An Equal Music is an unforgettable tale of love lost and nearly regained, its events unfolding in the dramatic settings of contemporary London, Vienna, and Venice. Brilliantly interweaving themes of loss, longing, and the power of music, Vikram Seth has created a deeply moving story about the strands of passion that run through all our lives.