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Four Hands. Two Hearts. One Song.

When widower Gerrit Appeldoorn takes his granddaughter to piano lessons one day, he finds himself drawn to her music teacher: a woman unlike any he has known. It?s an unlikely attraction. He?s a retired dairyman with mud on his boots; Joan Horton is a world traveler and former piano instructor at New York?s most prestigious academy of music. Not quite ?beauty and the beast,? but close.

Even so, Gerrit slowly ...

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The Duet

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Four Hands. Two Hearts. One Song.

When widower Gerrit Appeldoorn takes his granddaughter to piano lessons one day, he finds himself drawn to her music teacher: a woman unlike any he has known. It’s an unlikely attraction. He’s a retired dairyman with mud on his boots; Joan Horton is a world traveler and former piano instructor at New York’s most prestigious academy of music. Not quite “beauty and the beast,” but close.

Even so, Gerrit slowly begins to open his heart: to Joan, to music, to the possibilities that may be found in both. Yet as their relationship deepens, Gerrit faces crises concerning his family and farm, while Joan confronts a dark secret that threatens her future. While coping with these challenges, neither can predict how their duet will sound as they practice the music of renewed hope and second chances.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“As sweet and flavorful as Dutch apple pie, Robert Elmer’s The Duet is a welcome treat. I am so thrilled that Robert is now writing for adults as well as children–and I appreciate this loving look into a music teacher’s life and heart.” 
–Angela Hunt, author of The Debt

“Robert Elmer’s The Duet is a charming love story in which backgrounds and traditions clash. If you love music, nostalgia, or a rural setting, then this heartwarming novel is for you.”
–Randy Alcorn, author of Safely Home and Deadline

“The Duet is an absolute delight! How quickly the characters of Van Dalen became like my old and dearest friends. I can still hear the melody of their story playing in my heart.”
–Robin Lee Hatcher, best-selling author of Legacy Lane and Beyond the Shadows

“It’s never too late for love and Robert Elmer’s first delve into adult fiction conveys that comforting truth with a homespun wit and a unique voice. The Duet is peopled with characters of many stripes, many dimensions, yet they all intersect in the place where grace abounds. Wonderful.”
–Lisa Samson, best-selling author of The Church Ladies and The Living End.

“The Duet is a delightfully romantic story with real meat on its bones. If I wasn’t laughing out loud, I was smiling, and if I wasn’t smiling, I was crying. Robert Elmer writes with a charming voice. Truly one of the best novels I’ve read in years.”
–Deborah Raney, author of A Nest of Sparrows and Beneath a Southern Sky

The Duet is a charming, witty example of masterful storytelling.  Chuckles and hankies--you’ll need them both in this ‘ very goot book’!”
–Lori Copeland, author of the Morning Shade series, A Case of Bad Taste and A Case of Crooked Letters

Publishers Weekly
In this sweet, well-written contemporary Christian novel about a romance between a widow and a widower, Elmer (the author of several popular CBA youth series) shows he can pen a good yarn for adults as well as kids. Joan Marie Horton has left Long Island to use her sabbatical year teaching piano in the Dutch Reformed town of Van Dalen, Wash., where she hopes to spend time with her daughter and son-in-law, who are expecting a baby. When a piano student's handsome grandfather, retired dairy farmer and widower Gerrit Appeldoom, tags along for his granddaughter's lessons, Joan awakens his aptitude for music-as well as some other emotions he'd thought were permanently buried. As their romance unfolds, Elmer paints a detailed picture of the challenges of life for an outsider in a Dutch Reformed community. There's a nice underpinning of spiritual angst: Appeldoom, a stubborn Calvinist, begins to realize that his ideas about "God's will" may be the manifestation of his own fears and desires, while Joan "has no idea how to refloat the shipwrecks of her guilt-ridden life." Although the subplot of her son Randy's downward spiral is less engaging, competent writing, interesting characters and the quirky backdrop of Van Dalen keep the pages turning. While some readers may find Joan's fate too self-abnegating, this is an enjoyable story, laced with humor. (Feb.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781578567409
  • Publisher: The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/17/2004
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.69 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Elmer is the author of four popular youth series–The Young Underground, The Adventures Down Under, The Promise of Zion, and AstroKids. A graduate of St. Mary’s College and Simpson College, he has written numerous articles for newspapers and magazines and is a frequent speaker at schools and conferences.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2004

    Warm and Cozy!

    For the last few years, students in my grade six class have voraciously read Robert Elmer's historical fiction. I was thrilled when I found out he was now writing for adults, and was not disappointed with his first adult novel. The Duet is one of those books which grips your interest, reminds you that romance is real, and gives you a warm, cozy feeling as you curl up with it. Robert created real-life characters for this heart-warming story, and I found myself pulling for Gerrit and Joan to find love in each other's arms. It's a great read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2004

    A winner

    Widow Joan Marie Horton takes a leave of absence from teaching at New York¿s Gaylord School of Music to spend time with her pregnant daughter Alison and son-in-law Jim in Van Dalen, Washington. To earn money, Joan Marie fills in for piano teacher Linda Klopstra, who is in Romania for a year, teaching students....................................... Elderly Gerrit Appeldoom still mourns the loss of his beloved long time spouse Miriam and almost as much the loss of his family¿s dairy farm. His beliefs shattered and with nothing to occupy him, he feels empty............................... Gerrit accompanies his granddaughter Mallory for her piano lessons. When he hears Joan Marie playing, Gerrit finds his old appreciation for music beyond Johnny Cash has resurfaced. He is even ready to dance to the music and decides he wants lessons from Joan Marie. Through Joan Marie, Gerrit also rediscovers the Lord. Though concerned how their loved ones will react, they fall in love; now both know that Jesus will guide them and their families into doing the right thing.................................. This is an engaging inspirational character study focusing on the relationships between two older individuals to one another, their children and grandchildren, and the Lord. The story avoids being to maudlin because Joan Marie and Gerrit are real people wanting to do the best for others, but now have a second chance to do something for themselves. Although there is little action, readers who appreciate a powerful insightful look into the souls of protagonists will want to accompany the DUET as they play a beautiful melody............................... Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2004

    The Duet - Robert Elmer Graces Christian Adult Literature!

    With a warmth like ¿Mitford¿, yet a unique style, amusing humor, and pleasant charm all its own, The Duet by Robert Elmer captured my heart. I found myself rolling with laughter one moment and misty-eyed the next as I journeyed with characters, Gerrit and Joan through their grief, joys, prayers and hopes. The Duet is about two widowed adults from opposite spectrums of life who find that they really have quite a lot in common. Whether you are young or old, musical or not, you will find that you can relate to Gerrit, Joan and their families and be inspired to find answers to life¿s problems in Jesus Christ. I trust that this is only the beginning of many more delightful Christian adult novels by Robert Elmer that will grace our shelves!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2004


    I recently recieved a promotional copy of this book and I was very impressed with Robert Elmer's first title for the adult genre. My kids have loved him for years, but now I can enjoy him as well! Once I started I could barely put it down. Elmer's wit and unique voice transports you to the quaint little town of VanDalen, WA. Makes me want to visit! Very enjoyable plot, very believable characters! Fantastic!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2004


    My kids have enjoyed Robert Elmer's children's fiction for years, so I was delighted to hear about The Duet! It is a heart warming story, set in a quirky Dutch farm town in Washington state, with characters that are easy to relate with and love, and has an unforgetable ending. I could barely put it down once I started it - I stayed up way too late last night and couldn't finish it so I made my husband drive the kids to school this morning so I could finish the last chapter! I look forward to more books from Mr. Elmer in the future and would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of the Mitford series, Angela Hunt, Francine Rivers, or just a good old fashioned story! Wonderful!

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