I purchased this book for .50 cents at a garage sale and finished reading it on Monday. I immediately started reading a new book and have had no motivation to write this review. However, today I am going to sit down and write it because this book definitely deserves our attention.
Title: The Piano Shop on the Left Bank: Discovering a Forgotten Passion in a Paris Atelier
Author: Thad Carhart
Synopsis: “Walking his two young children to school every morning, Thad Carhart passes an unassuming little storefront in his Paris neighborhood. Intrigued by its simple sign – Desforges Pianos – he enters, only to have his way barred by the shop’s imperious owner. Unable to stifle his curiosity, he finally lands the proper introduction, and a world previously hidden is brought into view. Luc, the altier’s master, proves an indispensable guide to the history and art of the piano. Intertwined with the story of a musical friendship are reflections on how pianos work, their glorious history and stories of the people who care for them, from amateur pianists to the craftsmen who make the mechanism sing. The Piano on the Left Bank is at once a beguiling portrait of a Paris not found on any map and a tender account of the awakening of a lost childhood passion.“
I picked up this book with never having heard of it before and did not know what to expect. Sometimes books captivate you from the beginning and sometimes they take a while to get into. The Piano Shop on the Left Bank hooked me from the moment I read the synopsis on the back cover.
While you can find a piano in many homes throughout the world, they are most likely used as “furniture” rather than as an instrument. Yet, the piano has a vast history and many connections to the past and throughout the book, the author, Thad Carhart, dedicates chapters to the workings, antiquity and people behind one of the greatest instruments. Though it was interesting to learn how a piano really works and what each particular piece that makes up the piano inside and out is called, I did feel that the chapters dedicated to these descriptions were a bit long. Maybe it’s just because I have a short attention span and always need “book action” to be happening, but while I found it a little boring during these particular chapters, other readers may be extremely captivated by how a piano is built, how it produces sound and who has left their mark on the piano world.
Since the book is a memoir – non-fiction – the characters are based off of real people in the real world. The “characters” we are introduced to in The Piano Shop do not disappoint and really make up the entire book. Carhart introduces his readers to a lover of everything piano and the future owner of the piano shop, past piano teachers that were both good and bad, and even a drunken piano tuner. The people Thad befriends throughout his music quest and his encounters with each of them, which he dutifully describes throughout his writing, is what really makes the book so good. The people in the book are so endearing that Thad even says in his acknowledgments, ‘Please don’t try to find Luc or Mathilde or any of the others; they are not waiting to be discovered’.
Finally, the description of his Paris neighborhood, the knowledge he provides for the instrument he loves and the different experiences he shares with us, that’s what kept me reading to the end. I finished this book in such a short time because I wanted to keep reading and I wanted to share it with my sister whom has played the piano for many years and is currently studying French.
I highly recommend reading The Piano Shop on the Left Bank by Thad Carhart. Music, Paris, pianos, a love connection between a man and an instrument…who doesn’t love that?!
Purchase it at Amazon.com here: The Piano Shop on the Left Bank
*Note: The review above is written by me. © Kalie Lyn 2011*