Carhart's life as an American expatriate in Paris provides the setting for this witty and fascinating account of finding a piano to purchase and relearning how to play. His familiarity with French customs aids in his dealings with and subsequent acceptance as a friend by Luc, the proprietor of Desforges Pianos. A piano restoration workshop by day, it turns into an exclusive local hangout Friday nights. Gracefully shifting from the present day to his youth, Carhart, a freelance writer, provides both technical explanations about the workings of the piano and a history of the instrument. This background information helps place his studies and the remarks of various piano teachers, technicians, and aficionados in context. Similar to Noah Adams's fine Piano Lessons (LJ 3/15/96) with a continental flavor, Carhart's book will be of special interest to patrons with an affection for pianos or experience traveling in France.
Interesting account of a man's rediscovery of his love of pianos and music. Colorful characters and elegant writing.
Makes you feel like you know a little of the real Paris
Intertwined with the story of a musical friendship are reflections on how pianos work, their glorious history and stories of people who care for them.
Thad Carhard is an American living in Paris. Walking his daughter to school, he passes a piano shop every day. He goes in, hoping to buy a piano, and learns, after several visits, that he has to be recommended to the shop by a former customer before they will talk to him. He finds his recommendation, and the rest of the book discusses his new life in music in Paris. The New York Times concluded its review of the book by saying that Carhard describes life in Paris from a French point of view "Like them, in their different ways, he doesn't look at the French; he stands beside them to look in the same direction. What he tries to capture is not the sight of them but what they see." This is truly a lovely book.
Paris, pianos and friendship. A very enjoyable read.
From my Good Reads Review:
I know that some reviews have liked this book mainly because of the music references and the information on European pianos and I have to admit that this was some of the fascination for me with this book. But a vision that I had in mind during most of my reading was not this Paris Atelier full of partial and full piano "corpses" but a trip I took to Tennessee 3 years ago to see my fully restored J.C. Fischer Square Grand piano before I finished paying for it. Because of the experience in touring The Antique Piano Shop owned and started by Michael Stinnett, I could smell Luc's shop as I read through the book. I had a very similar problem with the stabilizing bar on my newly restored piano as Thad had on his Stingl baby grand. I could identify with Mathilde in her search for her stolen piano - I didn't search for a stolen piano but for someone who would lovingly restore my grandmother's piano. It took me almost twenty years and like Mathilde, I almost gave up and looked for the "next dream piano" but I am so glad that I did not.
Needless to say, I loved this book and would recommend to anyone that has music in their soul and wants to learn a thing or two.