The Piano Maker, by Kurt Palka

“The Piano Maker” is a historical romance, well-researched, with interesting detail, no anachronisms that I could pick up, with a twist of romance and mystery, competently written. However, the author fails to address the connection between artistic consciousness and the world, and the book has too many unconnected themes.

The Piano Maker by Kurt Palka (McClelland & Stewart, a division of Random House of Canada Ltd., 2015)

The Piano Maker could have been so much less, and in that way, been so much more. I thought that the author, who has written five novels before this one, would have been experienced enough to have realized the benefits of a simple structure focused on a primary theme. But in stead, there are too many themes that do not seem properly integrated, resulting in a melodramatic tone. The title, The Piano Maker, seems to be an afterthought rather than a sustained theme, while in actual fact, the history of pianos and their makers is fascinating – as I found out when I researched the provenance of my own piano. There are parallel themes of art theft and smuggling, war, workplace safety, even palaeontology, French Indochina, France at the end of the 19th century, the French in Africa, and quite a lot of religion (religious music, liturgy, priesthood, etc.) The main idea is probably “survival” or “closure” or the redeeming value of confession, and the fact that I cannot pinpoint exactly what the point is, is the problem. (Continue reading…)

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