Compelling tale of a piano and the two women who loved it

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The Weight of a Piano by Chris Cander

Book Review:  4 out of 5 star rating

In 1962, 8-year-old Russian Katya receives a piano, which is bequeathed to her by her elderly neighbor, who recognizes the music in Katya.  The piano is a German Bluthner. Katya becomes a gifted pianist and she brings the best out of the piano.  But her piano is lost to her when her husband decides to leave Russia with high hopes of starting a new life in America with Katya and their son.

In 2012, Clara is torn about whether she should sell her Bluthner piano, which was given to her by her beloved father as an early 12th birthday present.  She never learned to play it and has had to have it moved every time one of her relationships ends.  But the piano is special to her since her father gave it to her shortly before he and her mother died in a fire.  When she impulsively decides the piano must go, the buyer brings a connection with the piano that completely takes Clara off guard and brings her on a unique road trip through Death Valley.

I loved how this book begins with the building of this particular piano.  The details in this chapter are fascinating, from the slow choosing of the right tree to the long drying out of the wood to the final building of the exquisite piano in a factory in Leipzig.  It made the piano come alive in my mind and immediately built a connection with it.  In alternating chapters, the author introduces the two women who have such a love for this piano – Katya and Clara – and carefully weaves their stories together.  Their stories are beautifully told, with a slow and careful intent towards the brilliant ending.

Recommended.

This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.

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A heart-warming book full of charm

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The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

Book Review:  4 out of 5 star rating

The street where Frank Adair’s music shop is located has seen better days.  The mortar is falling off the buildings and teens are decorating its stores with graffiti.  But some of these shops have been here for many years, including Frank’s music shop, which only deals in vinyl records.  He refuses to carry CDs, which makes him quite unpopular with the record suppliers.  But Frank’s shop is special.  He has a knack for finding just the right song his customers need.  He manages to heal broken hearts and marriages and his store is a popular one with the community.  Frank has made a nice life for himself until one day a woman faints outside of his shop and sets his world on end.

This book is peopled with such unique, quirky characters – Frank’s assistant, Kit, who struggles to control his exuberance; Maud, the tattoo artist, Father Anthony who now runs a religious shop, the Williams Brothers, the funeral directors; and the baker, Mr. Novak.  And then there’s Ilse Brauchmann, who is such a mystery, with her gloved hands and her utter lack of knowledge about music.

My favorite part of the book was when the author takes a look back at the lessons Frank’s mother gave him about music and the music lessons he in turn gives to Ilse.  Frank’s mother taught him to hear the silence between the music notes and to look beyond the music to hear the composer’s heart and soul.  Ms. Joyce obviously has a great passion for music and how music can impact a person’s life is the thrust of her newest novel.

I do wish the author had wrapped up the story a bit earlier than she did.  I felt the book dragged for a while at the end.  But all in all, it was a very enjoyable book and brought a lot of smiles to my heart.

Recommended.

This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.

A young woman’s passion for music and her love for a special violin

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Gone by Min Kym

Book Review:  4 out of 5 stars

I very much enjoyed this heartfelt memoir by Min Kym. Ms. Kym gives us an in depth look into the life of a child prodigy.  Though she longed to live a “normal” life, hers was taken up with studying and playing the violin.  She loved every minute of it but she did miss not having friends or going to other children’s birthday parties.  But music was her passion and she definitely kept my interest as she tells of her progress in music.

Then she finds what she calls her “soulmate” – a valuable Stradivarius. Though she had played beautifully on all of her previous violins, she knew this one was special.  Her musical career started to take off until one tragic day when her violin was stolen.

Ms. Kym writes very convincingly on how this theft affected her. I felt I was living the loss with her, though truly how could I have known how she felt when I myself have never been so attached to a musical instrument.  Even so, reading her words did give me an understanding of what she went through.  After studying so hard and coming so far, this one event truly upended her.

There are parts of the book where it might be helpful to have some knowledge about music but mostly I think it would appeal to anyone who has loved and lost.

Recommended memoir.

This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.