Body & Soul tells the story of Claude Rawlings, a piano prodigy discovered by chance as a six-year-old on his lonely wanderings through New York. Left largely to himself while his mother drives a taxi, Claude picks out tunes on a piano and befriends the owner of a music store. His genius propels him to fame and riches--and eventually into a crisis of creativity and obsession common with brilliant artists. It's been a number of years since I read this, but I remember it as sweeping and completely immersive.
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In the dim light of a basement apartment, six-year-old Claude Rawlings sits at an old white piano, picking out the sounds he has heard on the radio and shutting out the reality of his lonely world.
The setting is 1940s New York, a city that is “long gone, replaced by another city of the same name.” Against a backdrop that pulses with sound and rhythm, Body & Soul brilliantly evokes the life of a child prodigy whose musical genius pulls him out of squalor and into the drawing rooms of the rich and a gilt-edged marriage.
But the same talent that transforms him also hurtles Claude into a lonely world of obsession and relentless ambition. From Carnegie Hall to the smoky jazz clubs of London, Body & Soul burns with passion and truth–at once a riveting, compulsive read and a breathtaking glimpse into a boy’s heart and an artist’s soul.