Novel Approach: The absence of music

“Where words fail, music speaks.” — Hans Christian Andersen”

Music and books both share the same task of conveying a story, a sensation or a moment. What we listen to while we read can often enhance our interests in the story. This week’s review transports us to the natural wonders in Death Valley National Park, while also allowing us to to glimpse snippets of Soviet Russia. To fall a bit deeper into this particular book, consider listening to a bit of classical piano, or compositions by the Russian composers sprinkled through this tale.

“The Weight of a Piano” by Chris Candler

A mechanic, a photographer and a piano take a trip to Death Valley; while this might sound like the setup to a strange joke, it’s actually the plot of Chris Candler’s novel, “The Weight of a Piano.” While some of the characters trek through Death Valley, Candler takes the reader back and forth through time to explain the tenuous ties that connect the unlikely characters together.

Katya is a musician in Soviet Russia and Clara is a mechanic living in sunny California, both women own the same piano at different points in their life. For one woman, the piano breathes life into soul while the other keeps it around as the sole totem of a tragic childhood. For these characters, the piano is much more than an instrument; it carries the weight of all their hopes and respective suffering.

From the book jacket

“The mysterious — and tragic — connections among Katya, Clara, and this Blüthner unravel gradually yet thrillingly in Chris Candler’s stunning portrait of modern womanhood and powerful ode to music’s ability to sustain us, or in its absence, destroy us.”

If you enjoy…

Readers who enjoy “The Weight of a Piano” might also enjoy “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt. The plot unravels as a young boy comes of age with only a painting and a tragic memory as his constant companions.

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