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The Cellist

UK Publisher: Peninsula Press

A piercing meditation on love and music, and the silence and inscrutability which underpins the performance of each. Luc has lived a long time as a soloist. She has not seen Billy for many years. A visit to a major show of his sculptures sends her arrowing back to younger version of herself: to a time when she had to make room to love him when she’d felt no room within herself. To a time when she could not find their convergence: the cello player and the lover. To a time when she was forced to make a choice between being one thing or another. To a time when he was a sculptor, but she was not yet a cellist. In exquisite and crystalline prose, The Cellist explores how you might make room for beauty and mastery for yourself, and still leave space for someone else. It asks what love and companionship costs: what happens when you are forced to cast yourself in the distorting light of another person’s needs?


‘Brilliant…The strength of the book is in its conflicting desires. The awakening arrives unbidden, and Luc, even as she surrenders to it, is never unaware of its cost’ – Anna Metcalfe

‘A novel of rare emotional acuity that explores a life lived in pursuit of artistic perfection, and measures the cost’ – Matthew Sperling

‘In precise, rigorous prose, this book mounts a defence of the search for sustenance through artistic practice. Atkins traces the fine lines, ruptures, and returns of an artist falling in love and refusing to make romance her organising principle, and shows the bashing a personal life can take in the pursuit of certainty. The Cellist is an honest and ambitious work.’ – Lucie Elven

Jennifer Atkins is a writer based in London. Her fiction and essays have appeared in Granta, the White Review, and...