SEVEN CIRCUMSTANCES

Original Book Reviews, Recommendations and Discussions

The Piano – A Novel, by Jane Campion and Kate Pullinger

The film poster of the book by Jane Campion and Kate Pullinger

The film poster of the book by Jane Campion and Kate Pullinger

The Piano - A Novel, by Jane Campion and Kate Pullinger (Miramax Books, 1994)

The Piano – A Novel, by Jane Campion and Kate Pullinger (Miramax Books, 1994)

The best of erotic romances

Some of the most gripping sex scenes I’ve ever read are from The Piano – A Novel, by Jane Campion and Kate Pullinger. It is an erotic romance novel set during the mid-19th century on the West coast of New Zealand. It meets all my criteria for successful erotic romance: authenticity, sex as plot device – not the plot, suggestiveness, convincing characters. It revolves around Ada McGrath, who arrives in New Zealand harbouring a passion for playing her piano, but does not speak, and her efforts to get back her piano from one of the locals, George Baines. It’s one of my all-time favourite novels because I understand the motivation of the characters; I have a great love of pianos, especially other people’s pianos. I gravitate towards them like some people do to other people’s cats.

The film of The Piano was written and directed by Jane Campion, and stars Holly Hunter, Harvey Keitel, Sam Neill, and Anna Paquin, in her first acting role. For both lead characters, Ada McGrath and George Baines, the piano becomes a symbol of what they desire but cannot have:

“Ada began to play. She heard George Baines walk up behind her, the floorboards creaking under his weight, and she felt his breath on her neck. He bent low and touched her, running his square, callused fingers along the tender length of her underarm. She stopped playing, raising her hands to the bare skin of her throat. ‘Two keys’, he said, speaking into her ear, escalating the terms of their bargain. Ada played the first few notes of a hesitant melody. George Baines rested his hand under Ada’s wrist – so narrow, the bones so fine. She played and again his hand lingered along the skin of her arm and up into the warm hollow beneath her shoulder. Then he stepped back and Ada, listening closely, heard him discard his undershirt, dropping it on the floor.” (pp. 118, 119)

Just a man who cannot read and write, and woman who cannot speak, and a rosewood piano that provides the music that becomes their means of communication – and the setting for their seduction. This is a novel and a film that will have you as steamy as a hot cuppa coffee in no time at all. It is pure erotica, and what’s more, it is meaningful, dramatic, sweeping, intense and unforgettable.