Gateway Gazette

From My Bookshelf: Kurt Palka

By Lynn Willoughby
The Piano Maker ~ Kurt Palka
the-piano-maker-kurt-palkaAnother story with a Canadian setting, with a strong, beguiling woman with a past. She shows up in a small town in Nova Scotia in the 1930s. She is friendly, sensible. talented and completely feminine so I was surprised that this novel was written by a man.
Helene’s family manufactured Molnar pianos in France prior to WWI. She herself is an expert piano tuner, had run the piano business and plays exquisitely. The war changed her life completely.
The story moves back and forth in time – from the snowy town of St Homais to Helene’s life as a young wife and mother living in France and later in Indochina when her husband was stationed there. Like Louise Penney’s mystery novels, we get to know the townspeople, the members of the choir, Helene’s daughter, Claire. However, we know there is something in her past that keeps her moving from town to town until one day the local RCMP officer shows up and arrests her.
Helene’s former life was something few women of her time could imagine. Life in Indochina, journeys to Egypt, Persia and France and the Canadian north in search of ancient treasures add interesting details. Helen’s fight to become the “leader” of a pack of sled dogs is evocative of other novels of the north (Mrs Mike, Coppermine).
While there are some inconsistencies in some of the facts, I did enjoy this easy little read, and I especially liked Helene.
  • Clara
  • Patient Number 7
………..and others
Who Knew?
Dinosaur relics with preserved skin, tendons and ligaments have occasionally been found. Conditions must be perfect for the mineralization of tissue before it is destroyed by bacteria.

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