The Piano Maker

The Piano Maker

eBook - 2015
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The suspenseful, emotionally resonant, and utterly compelling story of what brings an enigmatic French woman to a small Canadian town in the 1930s, a woman who has found depths of strength in dark times and comes to discover sanctuary at last. For readers of The Imposter Bride , The Cellist of Sarajevo , Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay, and The Red Violin . Helene Giroux arrives alone in St. Homais on a winter day. She wears good city clothes and drives an elegant car, and everything she owns is in a small trunk in the back seat. In the local church she finds a fine old piano, a Molnar, and she knows just how fine it is, for her family had manufactured these pianos before the Great War. Then her mother's death and war forces her to abandon her former life. The story moves back and forth in time as Helene, settling into a simple life, playing the piano for church choir, recalls the extraordinary events that brought her to this place. They include the early loss of her soldier husband and the reappearance of an old suitor who rescues her and her daughter, when she is most desperate; the journeys that very few women of her time could even imagine, into the forests of Indochina in search of ancient treasures and finally, and fatefully, to the Canadian north. When the town policeman confronts her, past and present suddenly converge and she must face an episode that she had thought had been left behind forever.
Publisher: [S.I.] : McClelland & Stewart, 2015.
ISBN: 9780771071416
Branch Call Number: eBOOK OVERDRI
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc

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ehbooklover Sep 11, 2017

This title is set in one of my favourite places (Nova Scotia) and I loved that when the story alternated between past and present it felt completely seamless. I also really liked that the female protagonist was so complex, strong, and believable. A quick read that I really enjoyed!

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wyenotgo
May 04, 2017

Although this is a rather quiet, low-key novel, nothing earth-shaking, no rockets in the sky, I'm giving it the full 5 stars. Because it does what it sets out to do: it tells a woman's very personal story, brings all the story elements together, establishes the setting, both in France and in Atlantic Canada, places the protagonist among other deftly drawn "salt-of-the-earth" characters who help to define the space, set the tone without getting in the way. Although Hélène remains a very private person, I learned to admire her quiet determination and inner strength. There is certainly no purple tint to Palka's prose but he captures each moment, each scene in seemingly simple but effective phrases that are perfectly chosen for the moment. A very satisfying book. Kurt Palkin is a fine writer and I look forward to reading more from him.

monini Mar 31, 2017

I really enjoyed this novel and read it in one shot. It was also very interesting to learn about the art of piano making and to follow Hélène's challenging journey through WWI and her difficult life in Canada.

katarina_biblio Mar 27, 2017

Started off slow, but I found myself carried along in the world of the novel, unable to stop reading until I finished! Lovely to read a story set in Canada as well.

c
claire1953
Jan 10, 2017

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Written in simple language, the author made the characters entirely believable as he did with the plot. If you know anything about the north, you can easily understand the struggles experienced by Hélène and Nathan. Palka keeps up the suspense until the end. He also thoroughly researched the piano-making process which is well described in the beginning of the novel. A quick read as well.

d
denise99
Dec 06, 2016

Beautifully written. Could not put it down.

h
happycanuck
Nov 20, 2016

The story slowly grows in intrigue becoming harder to put down.

j
julia_sedai
Sep 20, 2016

I found this book really interesting and quite suspenseful. I don't know much about pianos besides knowing how to play, and I loved Palka's descriptions. It goes into a lot more than piano making, even ending up in the Albertan north because the characters are looking for dinosaur skulls. Hélène's story is intriguing. I recommend this book for any adult.

e
Eil_1
Jul 19, 2016

Helene's story unfolds piece by piece. It is a compelling, straightforward and engrossing and well-written book. Will read "Patient Number 7" ("Clara).

m
MillieBT
Jul 11, 2016

I seriously gave it my best...it was slow..boring..no connection to the characters

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e
Eil_1
Jul 19, 2016

Helene's story unfolds piece by piece - compelling, straightforward and engrossing. I fully enjoyed it and will read "Clara" originally "Patient Number 7".

SPL_Melanie Mar 22, 2016

Frenchwoman Helene Giroux arrives unannounced in St. Homais, a small town on the French shore of Nova Scotia, sometime in the 1930s. She seems to be running from a dark secret in her past...which is slowly revealed through a series of flashbacks.

Helene is a complicated character; she grew up in France, the daughter of a successful piano maker, and becomes an accomplished piano maker, factory owner, and pianist herself.

But of course, 1914 is coming, and during the war Helene loses everything. Acquaintance Nathan Homewood, an American who had handled North American sales of their pianos, offers to sell all the fine wood laid away in her barn before it is destroyed -- and does so, while telling her that it was lost at sea. When she discovers his theft years later, she forces him to pay her back the thousands he had stolen. But due to circumstances, she also agrees to join forces with him in his latest project, antiquities dealing.

The book weaves back and forth, revealing more of Helene's past and her long relationship with Nathan. When the story opens, however, she is settling into her new small town life as an enigmatic stranger...until the RCMP places her under house arrest, to be retried for the murder of Nathan Homewood in 1929.

The small town setting seems to be the one still point in Helene's life, which allows the narrative to focus on the action in her past. This means the book starts out a bit slowly, until her history begins to be shared. Still, the story is enough to keep you turning pages, waiting to find out just what her deep dark secret is. And there is enough in it to make you consider rights and wrongs and consequences.

Helene is both a mysterious and appealing heroine. Her life is eventful, even if a little implausible at times. But this is an engaging story told in a style somewhere between literary novel and adventure yarn. Enjoy it for the surprises, and for the straightforward storytelling.

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