. Gone: A Girl, A Violin, A life Unstrung
By Min Kym
At 7 years old Min Kym was a prodigy, the youngest ever pupil at the Purcell School of Music. At 11 she won her first international prize. She worked with many violins, waiting for the day she would play ‘the one’. At 21 she found it: a rare 1696 Stradivarius, perfectly suited to her build and temperament. Her career soared. She recorded the Brahms concerto, and a world tour was planned. Then, in a train station café, her violin was stolen. In an instant her world collapsed. She descended into a terrifying limbo land, unable to play another note.
This is Min’s extraordinary story of a young woman staring into the void, wondering who she was, who she had been. It is a story of isolation and dependence, of love, loss and betrayal, and the intense, almost human bond that a musician has with their instrument. Above all it’s a story of hope through a journey back to music.
This is a book that most of the group said they would not have read if it hadn’t been recommended by a musician in the group. Having said that, there was overwhelming praise for the book despite over half saying that they found it full of sadness and loss – the violin, her childhood, the lack of a paternal presence in her life – with many gaps and things unsaid in relation to Min’s family and her recovery from depression. Many felt they were left with questions after finishing the book.
There was some discussion about whether the pressures Min was put under to play and excel, her acquiescence with male domineering figures in her life might have been in some part due to her cultural background. It was agreed that the book was brilliantly written and gave a fascinating insight into the relationship between a musician and her instrument, the life of a musical prodigy and solo performer. The book may well have been written as a cathartic process for Min coming to terms with her loss.
Average score 8.
It was interesting to learn that many musicians are always self critical of their own performance and that for musicians, music always comes first.
Many thanks to our host for the toasty warm fire and cakes!