Thursday, May 13, 2010

Book Review: The Piano Shop on the Left Bank

I just finished reading "The Piano Shop on the Left Bank" by Thad Carhart. Thad is an expatriate writer that lives in Paris with his wife and 2 children. As he walks his children to school every day, he passes by a small piano shop - Desforges Pianos. Over time, he forms a relationship with the shop owner, Luc. This relationship with Luc revitalizes Carhart's passion for the piano. This memoir is a bit of a love story for the piano. We learn about the history of the piano and how the piano has changed since it's invention. I think it is a gem of a book for anyone who is interested in pianos and classical music. If you have no interest in pianos, though, you will probably find this to be a bit dull!

I loved how Luc thought of each piano almost as a person. When Luc sold a piano, the client usually wouldn't pick the piano out; instead, Luc would "introduce" the client to a piano that he thought would be a good fit. As Luc says, "It's not just another instrument like a flute or a violin that you put away in the closet. You live with it and it with you. It's big and impossible to ignore, like a member of the family. It's got to be the right one! (p. 29-30)"

I took piano lessons for over 10 years and taught lessons during my junior and senior year of high school. Reading about Carhart's reflections of his recital days resonated with me. When he said, "... recitals were a strange amalgam: half exam, half carnival, with a dreadful thrill of anticipation until the awful night slowly arrived and quickly passed (p. 63)," I said out loud - YES! Oh the dreaded recital. I do not miss those days!

This book definitely awakened my desire to own a piano. Unfortunately, that is not practical in my 680 square foot condo. It's a shame because playing the piano is so therapeutic for me! When I do buy a house down the road, though, a piano will be one of the first major purchases I will make!

Did you take piano lessons as a child? If not, do you wish you had?


Mandy said...

I've added this book to my TBR list. I did take piano lessons for about a year when I was 10, I think, and didn't enjoy it one bit. It was something I was sort of forced to do and not something I ever wanted to do.

Now I wish I would have taken more time to learn, but I enjoy listening to someone play.

Emily Jane said...

I took piano lessons as a child, but I remember coming home crying one day, swearing to my dad that my teacher was secretly a witch!! I went on to synthesisers and keyboards in senior school... and randomly, clarinet in high school. I'd really like to buy a big keyboard again one day; apparently the 80s are back :)

Did you get your package yet?? :)

Cherry Blossoms said...

I def want to check this book out! I never took piano lessons but def want a piano someday in my living room. Chris knows how to play though!

Nora said...

I did take piano lessons as a kid and I wish that I never stopped =(

Have you seen the movie "Once"? If not, go rent it immediately. It's a love story, indie film, with music, all rolled into one. (but it's not a musical.) It's so beautiful. I think you'd really like it. And a piano is a huge part of the movie =)

Lauren @ Sassy Molassy said...

I wish I had taken piano lessons. My mom is very musical and can play, but not me! I was a band geek, but wish I had done something more practical like piano. Gah.

Ally said...

I added this book to my list after you mentioned it before. I took piano lessons for seven years when I was younger. I liked it okay, but what I really wanted (and still want) was to take voice lessons. I think singing was my true calling. :)

Charbelle said...

I am so not musical and I never did take piano lessons. I took ballet instead. Your condo and mine are the same size! I'm sure when you have your house you will also have the perfect piano!!

Shoshanah said...

I never took piano lessons, but part of my wishes I had. If only so I had an excuse to have a piano in my future house someday.