Sleeping with Schubert

Sleeping with Schubert

by Bonnie Marson

I’m Kim Alexander and this is Fiction Nation. The book is Sleeping With Schubert by first time author Bonnie Marson.

The story is that Ms Marson decided to write a page a day, and this book was the result. It was picked up by a publisher just before her 50th birthday. It’s an inspiring story, made even better by the fact that this book is a keeper. It’s an urban fairy tale, of young Brooklyn lawyer Liza who faints in Nordstroms and wakes up possessed by the spirit of 19th century composer Franz Schubert. Liza, an average musician at best, is suddenly playing like the genius who has secretly moved in. Should she tell the world her talent is not a gift, but on loan? Should she tell her boyfriend they’ve got company? And what should she wear to her recital at Carnegie Hall? She fears that her life is no longer her own, but she’s equally afraid that her life will be diminished without its genius in residence. And why did Schubert come back? Something to do with an unfinished symphony perhaps? This fairy tale has a happy and unexpected ending. This is Fiction Nation and the book is Sleeping with Schubert by Bonnie Marson.


I’m Kim Alexander and this is Fiction Nation. The book is Sleeping With Schubert by Bonnie Marson.

Before I get to the story itself, it’s worth talking for a second about the author. This is a great story. Bonnie Marson, an artist who had never written a book before, decided at the age of 49 that she was going to write a page a day. And she did, until she finished this book. It was sold to a publisher just before her 50th birthday. And you may look for the movie because the rights were picked up by Paramount. So that’s for folks who think they’re too old to start something new — this was her first book. It’s either inspiring or terrifying. Of course, we wouldn’t be having this conversation if Marson couldn’t write. But she can, and we are.

Sleeping With Schubert is a sort of inspirational fairy tale, about a young Brooklyn lawyer who becomes possessed by the restless spirit of the 19th century composer Franz Schubert. He was the one, you may recall, with the unfinished symphony. Liza, the posess-ee, has a sort of unfinished life as well. An on and off relationship with her boyfriend, currently in Italy trying to find himself, a vague unfulfillment at work where she’s one lawyer among many, a combative relationship with her chic, moneyed sister — it all changes the day she faints at the women’s shoe department at Nordstroms. That’s when Schubert moves in. I was prepared for things to get kooky and silly at this point, but that’s not what happened. Marson resists the temptation to go for a fish out of water, guy in a girl’s body story, and instead while keeping things light and humorous, she asks serious questions and keeps the characters — even the ghost of Schubert — true to themselves.

Liza knows she’s not going crazy, but can’t go back to her old life. All she wants to do now is play the piano. And when you’ve got a long dead genius doing the playing for you, people will take notice. And people do. Before long, Liza has a fan club on her doorstep and the media is following her around. Her pushy parents, overbearing sister, and loyal friends all try to help in their own way, along with more dubious help from psychics, mediums and channelers. And there are also catty competitors and jealous composers to deal with . Apparently, the Julliard School of Music is as big a shark tank as Liza’s old law firm. As Liza continues to create brilliant music seemingly out of nowhere, she also has to figure out why she was picked as the new home of this old spirit.

The author raises some excellent questions about the nature of talent…where does it come from, and who owns it? Should Liza tell the world about her literal soul mate? Should she tell her boyfriend for that matter?  She worries both that the spirit of Schubert will never leave her, that she’ll never be herself again, but worries equally that he’ll vanish before their next concert appearance, and that her life will be diminished without his borrowed gifts. Schubert does have an agenda, not surprisingly to do with his unfinished symphony, and I found myself practically on the edge of my seat, wondering how Marson would make the ending a happy one. I actually found the climactic scene a little over the top, but what the heck, it is a fairy tale and Liza deserved a happy ending to her story.

The book is Sleeping with Schubert by Bonnie Marson.
Want to talk about books? Email me at Kim dot Alexander at xmradio dot com. This is Fiction Nation on Book Radio, SiriusXM Channel 80.


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