Ballad for Sophie

by Filipe Melo

Other authorsJuan Cavia (Illustrator), Gabriela Soares (Translator)
Paperback, 2021




Top Shelf Productions (2021), 320 pages


A young journalist prompts a reclusive piano superstar to open up, resulting in this stunning graphic sonata exploring a lifetime of rivalry, regret, and redemption. 1933. In the small French village of Cressy-la-Valoise, a local piano contest brings together two brilliant young players: Julien Dubois, the privileged heir of a wealthy family, and Fran├žois Samson, the janitor's son. One wins, one loses, and both are changed forever. 1997. In a huge mansion stained with cigarette smoke and memories, a bitter old man is shaken by the unexpected visit of an interviewer. Somewhere between reality and fantasy, Julien composes, like in a musical score, a complex and moving story about the cost of success, rivalry, redemption, and flying pianos. When all is said and done, did anyone ever truly win? And is there any music left to pla… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member reader1009
*reviewed from uncorrected e-galley via netgalley*

adult graphic fiction (contains nudity, drugs, adult situations, language). Set in France 1930s-present day (through Nazi occupation and after)

gorgeously illustrated, beautifully told story of a musician's fantastic, dramatic, tragic life. I was
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thoroughly engrossed in this strange and riveting tale.
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LibraryThing member juniperSun
This story drew me in. A determined intern (Sophie) sets out to interview an aging star musician (Julien/Eric) who is extremely reclusive and gruff. She seems to know quite a lot about his life--kudos for being well-prepared. Her persistance draws out a tale of a young Parisian boy who would do
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anything for his mother's love, which is never given. She demands perfection in developing his talent, and uses her power to ensure he wins a competition. Then the Germans invade & occupy France and his mother finds a way to stay on top. Julien contrasts his life with that of another, much poorer, talented young boy. Along the way we learn more about Sophie, notice her kindness, her respect for the housekeeper. The ending is just perfect, but I can't tell you.
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LibraryThing member bell7
Persistent journalist Adeline Jourdain convinces retired pianist Julien Dubois to tell his life story, beginning as a child prodigy whose mother pushed him to practice and play perfectly. As she stays in his large house and also gets to know his cat and housekeeper, she learns about his career and
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his rivalry with Francois Samson.

What a delightful story, primarily set during and after World War 2 in France. Felipe Melo's words and Juan Cavia's realistic color illustrations meld perfectly to tell a story of regret, redemption and the power of music.
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LibraryThing member villemezbrown
It's 1997 in France and a famous pianist, who has become a cranky old recluse, slowly opens up and tells his life story to a young interviewer. He mostly laments how he was a sell-out Salieri to his nearly supernaturally talented lifelong rival. The story ranges from his childhood in the 1930s,
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through occupied Paris during World War II, to his post-war career as a Liberace-like pop star with its requisite VH1 Behind the Scenes arc of self-destructive behavior.

It's a bit predictable, but simply and well told with characters who are easy to become attached to.
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Original language

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