piano shop shutterstock feature

On Our Bookshelves – The Piano Shop on the Left Bank

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BOOK: The Piano Shop on the Left Bank

AUTHOR: Thad Carhart

YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 2000

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I picked up this lovely little memoir recently from my local library’s used book sale. I knew nothing about it, but I liked the title, as well as the subtitle: “Discovering a Forgotten Passion in a Paris Atelier.” The story is fairly simple: Thad Carhart, an American living in Paris, passes each day a small shop where pianos are repaired and resold and finds himself drawn to it. He decides he would like to purchase a small piano for his apartment, but he cannot even gain entry to the store without a proper introduction. After he eventually secures one, he slowly forms a friendship with the owner, purchases a piano, starts taking lessons for the first time since his childhood, and finds a community of musicians, craftsmen, teachers, and lovers of music. Along the way, the reader learns a great deal about pianos: their history, the manufacturing process, their social importance, and musical education.

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What makes the book really sing, however, is Carhart’s depiction of slowly getting to know the non-touristy side of Paris, much more private, very attractive, hidden from most foreigners, made of neighborhoods and personal connections. He writes about it almost seductively…it’s enough to make you want to book a lengthy stay and take up a long-neglected hobby, whether piano playing, mastering the art of French cooking (Julia Child’s writing, especially My Life in France, comes to mind here), or dressmaking. The writing here is infused with a love of the place, and of the people, and of pianos—whether or not you share those particular enthusiasms, it’s hard not to be inspired by his.

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Have a glass of wine at the ready, and enjoy the music.

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RATING (one to five whistles, with five being the best): 3 1/2 Whistles

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HOW TO PURCHASE: Amazon

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Laura LaVelle is an attorney and writer who lives in Connecticut, in a not quite 100-year-old house, along with her husband, two daughters, and a cockatiel.

Laura can be contacted at laura@newswhistle.com.

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Lead-In Image (“Old Piano”) Courtesy of Corrado Baratta / Shutterstock.com

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