Book Review: “The Lost Love Song” by Minnie Darke (@PenguinBooksAus)

The Lost Love Song is the second book by Tasmania-based author Minnie Darke. It begins with – you guessed it – the loss of a song that Diana, a talented classic pianist, composed. After seven years together with Arie, she finally found the perfect way to express her love for him.

On the eve of Diana’s departure for a world tour, Arie heard part of the song. He waited impatiently for her return, when she would hopefully agree to marry him. That would be a perfect ending to their love song, right?

But the story is more about how the song is found, by various individuals across the world, and under a variety of circumstances. What these men and women share is their love for music. Thanks to Diana’s exquisite melody, some are able to mend their broken hearts; others are inspired to explore the substance of love, and still others are empowered to embrace it.

From Singapore to London, from Edinburgh to Vancouver, from Seattle to Osaka and Buenos Aires, from New York City to Fremantle, and, finally, from Melbourne to Hobart – the song travels, tugging at people’s heartstrings. As the story’s omnipresent narrator observes:

“A song is not so very different from a recipe. After all, who invented bolognese sauce? Sure, it was Pellegrino Artusi who was the first – in 1891 – to publish its recipe in a book, but we can be fairly sure that the meal itself had been travelling, from stove to plate, from host to guest, for a long time before that.”

“Once released into the world, songs, too, have a tendency to make their own way, each new musician reinventing them: removing an ingredient, adding a wild new flavour, changing the balance of the spices.”

Like all good meals – and good stories – songs go straight to our hearts and linger tenderly in our dreams, caressing our fatigued nerves and comforting our weary souls. Indeed, by the time the broken-hearted Arie hears the song again, it is only with joy and gratitude. Based on this outcome alone, some would suggest that The Lost Love Song is a romance novel.

Yet this reviewer would argue that, in this story, the author casts a loving limelight on something more unique and mysterious, something that connects and unites us, albeit randomly, celebrating our similarities while embracing our differences as human beings. The amazing journey of Diana’s song is a reminder of how music can proceed and persevere as a universal language.

Sometimes, all you need is love. At other times, you only need a love song. Thus we may cite the lyrics of another love song to conclude this review: “Minutes turn to hours, days to years then gone. But when all else has been forgotten, still our song lives on.”

Minnie Darke’s The Lost Love Song was published by Penguin Australia in March 2020. You can find an audio, digital or print edition of the book in your local library.

Note: This book review was originally published under the title “Love songs that nourish” by Ranges Trader Star Mail, Easter Special Edition, on March 30, 2021, Page 4. It was the final of a series of three articles featured under the headline “Curl up with a good book”, with this introduction: “The Easter long weekend is the perfect time to curl up with a good book, a cup of tea and a hot cross bun. Star Mail book reviewer Christine Yunn-Yu Sun has three suggested holiday reads — Chloe Hopper’s The Arsonist: A Mind on Fire, Ouyang Yu’s Billy Sing: A Novel, and Minnie Darke’s The Lost Love Song.”

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