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Unequal Temperament

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Morgan Tallis has long been a virtuoso at dividing her time. A talented pianist who didn't quite have what it takes for a solo concert career, she rebounded from that early disappointment to immerse herself in two passions: weather and harpsichord. The result is a satisfying but difficult balancing act as a National Weather Service meteorologist and a professional accompanist. She and her husband, an engineering professor and amateur artist, decided early in their marriage not to have children because they believed their busy lives precluded responsible parenthood. They have been happily childless for nine years. However, when Morgan's dad dies, she suddenly feels lost and alone, and she begins to have regrets without really understanding why.


Grief exposes a fault line in Morgan's marriage, and other pressures increase the strain. She takes a gig as a rehearsal pianist for a production of the Benjamin Britten opera Peter Grimes. One of the principal players has known Morgan for ten years and has been propositioning her for almost that long. Though it has become a joke between them, his attraction is genuine and growing, and at the same time, a stay-at-home mom next door develops a crush on Rob. In Morgan's fumbling efforts to restore a semblance of order to her life and emotions, she has to face new options, old fears, and the unpredictability of weather, art, and family.


"Sharply observed, built of masterful prose, Unequal Temperament affirms the vitality of art in our lives at a time when devotion to craft and the pursuit of the sublime are made out to be old-fashioned terms. This is a book as awed by a great piece of music as it is by the shadings and complications of its very rich characters. Like the great Paula Fox, Walsh knows how to make a tight frame give us a very wide view of the world."

— Brian Castleberry, author of Nine Shiny Objects  


"Perhaps the greatest compliment I can give Cheryl Walsh's Unequal Temperment is that I learned so much from it. I learned about harpsichord tuning and Baroque music. I learned about opera and painting and weather systems. I learned about grief and the ways it bends and twists the grieving into something—someone—new. Walsh writes with such beauty and clarity that it's impossible not to get swept up in the voices of her trio of narrators. I simply did not want this book to end." 

— Meghan Phillips, author of Abstinence Only


Cheryl is grateful to the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, which granted her the gift of time and the opportunity to talk with painters and musicians about their work, providing the perfect environment for writing this novel.