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The Piano Shop on the Left Bank: Discovering a Forgotten Passion in a Paris Atelier

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  • Posted October 24, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Great Find!

    I picked up this book with never having heard of it before and did not know what to expect. Sometimes books captivate you from the beginning and sometimes they take a while to get into. The Piano Shop on the Left Bank hooked me from the moment I read the synopsis on the back cover. While you can find a piano in many homes throughout the world, they are most likely used as "furniture" rather than as an instrument. Yet, the piano has a vast history and many connections to the past and throughout the book, the author, Thad Carhart, dedicates chapters to the workings, antiquity and people behind one of the greatest instruments. Though it was interesting to learn how a piano really works and what each particular piece that makes up the piano inside and out is called, I did feel that the chapters dedicated to these descriptions were a bit long. Maybe it's just because I have a short attention span and always need "book action" to be happening, but while I found it a little boring during these particular chapters, other readers may be extremely captivated by how a piano is built, how it produces sound and who has left their mark on the piano world. Since the book is a memoir - non-fiction - the characters are based off of real people in the real world. The "characters" we are introduced to in The Piano Shop do not disappoint and really make up the entire book. Carhart introduces his readers to a lover of everything piano and the future owner of the piano shop, past piano teachers that were both good and bad, and even a drunken piano tuner. The people Thad befriends throughout his music quest and his encounters with each of them, which he dutifully describes throughout his writing, is what really makes the book so good. The people in the book are so endearing that Thad even says in his acknowledgments, 'Please don't try to find Luc or Mathilde or any of the others; they are not waiting to be discovered'. Finally, the description of his Paris neighborhood, the knowledge he provides for the instrument he loves and the different experiences he shares with us, that's what kept me reading to the end. I finished this book in such a short time because I wanted to keep reading and I wanted to share it with my sister whom has played the piano for many years and is currently studying French. I highly recommend reading The Piano Shop on the Left Bank by Thad Carhart. Music, Paris, pianos, a love connection between a man and an instrument.who doesn't love that?!

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  • Posted July 29, 2011

    Recommended for piano lovers and Francophiles

    Like Carhart I had resumed piano lessons later in life and discovered a tuner's notes on the inside of the 1920's upright piano I got for free.
    I visited Paris two years ago for a few days and fell in love with the city of lights.
    Carhart's story brought together two things that I love: Paris and the piano. I was intrigued with the day to day life a Parisian businessman and the quartier. The piano history blew my mind. Who knew why pianos were always black and they got their start in Italy?
    A great read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2008

    Splendid read..

    Clearly a work of non-fiction this book is a refreshing look at the enigmatic piano shops that some of us pass during our daily lives. Could have easily jumped into a mystery-lead fiction tale but I think it says just that much more about the story. A choice weekend read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2004

    A Book about Obession More Than Just Pianos

    You don't need to know how to play the piano in order to love this book. You just need to want to play the piano. This is a book about an American who wanders into an atelier in Paris out of casual curiosity, then gets gradually drawn into a cult of piano lovers,surely a dwindling breed in a world of passive entertainment devices. This book likely tells you more than you ever really wanted to know about pianos, but the author convinces you that these details are necessary knowledge and that is what draws you into this chronicle. This is a book about obsession, a constructive kind, more than it is just a book about pianos.

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