Ambitions by Harriet Katz

(No Series)

Brilliant, gifted, driven, obsessed with grand dreams, possessed by passions that could destroy them all.

Janine and Jason, Cynthia and Allen. When they met as students, they believed that anything was possible. That their astonishing talents would open the doors to a world of opportunity.

New York, Paris, London, Moscow, Hollywood. They chased their grand dreams across the world - until mutual respect became fierce rivalry...until the bonds of friendship were broken by the ironies and tragedies of love and desire...until a taste of fame and fortune turned their brightest hopes into blind ambition.

Only one of them will triumph over extraordinary odds to reap the ultimate reward. But all of them will learn of the high price even the best and the brightest must pay for...AMBITIONS.

This book was published in 86, so I highly doubt this review will prompt anyone to seek it out. I had it laying around and, even if it doesn't merit the highest review purposes, wanted to read it. I'm glad I did. The protagonist is a violin virtuoso, a child prodigy in her past and opening the story as an adult faced with a startling discovery she views as a betrayal by two people who were always important in her life. It then swaps back to the beginning, so to speak, where she sits as a teenager at the special school with her special talent surrounded by all those special people. From then it goes on chronologically, sometimes skipping ahead almost too much, focused primarily on her career with the violin and her struggles making it to the top.

Even though I don't play the violin or know anyone who does, and in fact have never read another story about a violinist, I found everything rather fascinating. I love music, so perhaps this helped, but I suspect that even someone who mainly follows only one musical genre that is not related to the classical type could follow the story quite well. It's more because you could substitute her struggles with the violin, winning, and overcoming goals with about everything else in life.

The reader is promised a ride through the lives of all four from the back cover, but mainly Cynthia is concentrated on. Jeanine is there sometimes but very little except as a supporting character for Cynthia, having the least backstory of all, and Jason - while he seems to perhaps promise the most exciting sub-stories of all, is only focused on briefly. Allen gets plenty of limelight but mainly as well when it has to do with supporting Cynthia's story. So don't expect this to be where it keeps switching the point of views of four people, all getting equal book time.

I enjoyed Cynthia's personality, but she was too naive at times, too simple and one-dimentional in other sections. Sweet and demure, devoted and all that, it was fun being in her head, even if not all her thoughts were particularly enlightening. Jason just comes across as a class-A jerk much of the time but more layers are uncovered as the book marches on. Allen is well-written but I'll leave your impressions of him to you if you ever read this book...not someone I care for but intriguing because of his personality flaws more than anything else.

I'm not sure what makes this book so special. The beginning was forced and awkward in writing style, being too flourish and heavily aching with drama, but it seems that once the writer got her foot swinging, she kept going and improving. Thank God the writing did not continue to suffer as the story continued, and actually turned into a good prose soon enough that was much easier to follow. There was always something going on, and for the drama fan you should be hooked as things unfold. Maybe they don't unfold in loud bangs and huge man explosions, but they still occur in their own quiet, tumultous way.

The theme, clearly expressed in the book and probably guessed already by you from the back cover alone, is the pursuit of dreams and powers and how this shall destroy some, while saving others. A theme worth reading about anytime if done right. I recommend this oldie if you come across it, you shouldn't be disappointed.

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