After her lover—a famous conductor—dies unexpectedly, a professional musician is blackmailed into completing the score for his unfinished viola concerto. As Suzanne struggles to keep her double life a secret from her husband, from her best friend, and from the other members of her quartet, she is consumed by memories of a rich love affair saturated with music. Increasingly manipulated by her lover’s widow and tormented by the concerto’s many layers, Suzanne realizes she may lose everything she’s spent her life working for.

A story of love, loss, sex, class, and betrayal, this psychologically compelling novel explores the ways that artists’ lives and work interact, the nature of relationships among women as friends and competitors, and what it means to make a life of art.


With this, her fourth novel, Blackwell has climbed into the ranks of our most consistent and interesting American novelists.
The Quarterly Conversation

An Unfinished Score is also Blackwell’s most accessible and fast-paced novel thus far. Starting with the plane crash on page one, the surprises and reversals-of-fortune are relentless. The plot, an exploration of talent and relationships, is a page-turner—and taut as an E string. The story’s climax is well-paced and satisfying, casting new light on all that came before it, deepening each character, enriching the story as a whole…. An engrossing read on an evocative subject, An Unfinished Score should please fans of Blackwell’s previous writing and win her some new fans.
Mostly Fiction

Elise Blackwell’s fourth novel resonates strongly like the musical pieces that abound in the book, a literary symphony compelling and enriching.
Largehearted Boy

An emotional novel. It is a book that asks for sympathy and contemplation. Exploring the complexity of classical music, the lives that create and perform it, and nothing less complicated than the inner workings of the human heart, the book is ultimately an orchestra of its own, beautifully composed and richly textured.
New Pages