In The End of Music, Jamie Fitzpatrick guides the reader through interconnected timelines between a mother and son. The story dives deep into the lives of Joyce and Carter. Joyce’s story includes her time as a young flight attendant and singer in a band in post-Second World War Newfoundland and the present, when she is elderly and living in a nursing home.
Joyce’s son Carter was part of an up and coming rock band but now spends time with his wife in Ontario worrying over their young son’s heart condition, his mother in the nursing home and his ex-wife/ex-bandmate, who is dying from cancer.
The perspectives of Joyce and of Carter are expressed in similar, yet completely different ways. Fitzpatrick is somehow able to express so eloquently the thoughts and feelings of a woman living, working and socializing in the late 1940s, while interlacing the narrative with her son 50 years later and his internal struggles with a past love, a sick child and an ailing mother. But the central tie that brings the two story lines together is music.
Joyce’s younger years involve long days at work, moving into late nights singing with the band–trying to balance professionalism, relationships and attention from men in her audiences. Carter’s story reflects on his days as an aspiring rock star, his relationships, fallouts and the demise of the band, to coming to realize that his band’s music was more impactful on their fans than they had imagined. This realization spurs his mission to resurrect their recordings, facing several obstacles and frustrations along the way.
The End of Music is a novel not to be read when you’re feeling sleepy. The story lines are incredibly detailed and interwoven to a degree that you have to be awake and alert to fully differentiate which story line you are reading. As the transitions are so seamless, I sometimes had to re-read a page or two prior to confirm that I was up to speed on whose story was being told and where I was in the timeline.
Both stories express a love of music, a loss of love, struggles with the past and a hope for health and happiness. In addition to the masterful way Fitzpatrick connects these two narratives, what really stood out for me was his ability to truly personify and articulate two completely opposite but related characters’ thoughts, feelings and actions, in two completely different eras, telling two stories which converged into one.
The End of Music