Sunday, April 9, 2006

50BC06 #8: The Piano Shop on the Left Bank

50 Book Challenge #8
The Piano Shop on the Left Bank: Discovering a Forgotten Passion in A Paris Atelier
by Thad Carhart
268 pp

Although classified as a non-fiction memoir, Carhart’s brilliant work reads like a novel in its vivid character descriptions and joyous reverence for music. The author pulls us into his Parisian existence, in the center of which lies Desforges Pianos, a small, but magical atelier which houses passions for history and music. We follow Carhart on a hero’s journey, all the while learning immense amounts about the making and history of pianos.

The key figures in the book are characters but not caricatures. Carhart views his life in Paris as an adventure, and the reader is held in joyful anticipation of the next discovery in chapter after chapter. Rather than the Louvre, the Champs Elysées, and Le Tour Eiffel, Carhart’s Paris is a human community brought together by a love of music.

Full of technical details and historical interludes, Carhart’s memoir is informed, but not burdened by its own knowledge. The author’s writing style is fluid and whimsical, touched with a dry humor that keeps his lofty homage to music at a very urbane level. Even those who have never been to Paris or have no connection with music whatsoever will enjoy this book as it is really a story about the childhood passions we so easily forget at adults.

Posted here 9/12/08, originally posted 4/9/06.