Typically I can cut a book like this a ton of slack. And typically, I don't get too disgruntled when things are outlandish in such a book. So, for example, I'm on board with the whole "the tarot cards are sending definite signals" thing, and I'm also on board with the whole "there is an important connection between these people from a hundred years ago in the book and this biographer character from today" thing, and even I'm cool with the idea that there is something supernatural going on in the book.
But, in spite of my abilities in the area of willingly suspending my disbelief, I am decidedly not able to look the other way about the following passage:
"After a couple of years of researching and planning - but getting nowhere - she'd caught a break. Six months ago, a small start-up academic press made a modest offer for the book. The advance wasn't great but, given that she didn't have a reputation in the field of music criticism, it was pretty good. Enough to make her dream of coming to Europe a reality. She was determined to write not just another Debussy memoir but the book, the biography.
Her second piece of luck had been getting a part-time teaching post at a private college outside Raleigh-Durham, starting the spring semester. [. . .]
After ten years of paying her way through college, Meredith had racked up a lot of debt, and money was tight. But with what she made from teaching piano, combined with the advance from the publishing company and now the promise of a regular salary, she summoned up the courage to go ahead and book the tickets to Europe." (56-57)
I have tried to stop being irritated by the above, but DUDE! a "part-time teaching post" is not (as my readers here well know) a "regular salary" on which one could live, let alone justify a pricey trip to the UK and to France (Paying 10 Euros for breakfast! Agreeing to pay 30 euros for a 1/2 hour tarot reading! Staying in a swank hotel in the heart of Paris, and then in a 5-star place for a few days in the country as a "reward" for roughing it! Not taking the metro once! Flying as opposed to taking the train to the countryside!) by any stretch. And an advance from an small academic press for a first book? DUDE!
I realize my complaint here isn't terribly articulate, but this is exactly why I feel like people who aren't academics - or who have little to no familiarity with academic life - should not have characters whom they style as academics. Of course people think that this is a cushy gig, if the "realistic" parts of the book include these details! Hideous!