For fans of Ann Patchett's Bel Canto, Annie Proulx's Accordion Crimes, Amanda Coplin's The Orchardist
A tour-de-force about two women and the piano that inexorably ties their lives together through time and across continents, for better and for worse.
In 1962, in the Soviet Union, eight-year-old Katya is bequeathed what will become the love of her life: a Blüthner piano, built at the turn of the century in Germany, on which she discovers everything that she herself can do with music and what music, in turn, does for her. Yet after marrying, she emigrates with her young family from Russia to America, at her husband's frantic insistence, and her piano is lost in the shuffle.
In 2012, in Bakersfield, California, twenty-six-year-old Clara Lundy loses another boyfriend and again has to find a new apartment, which is complicated by the gift her father had given her for her twelfth birthday, shortly before he and her mother died in a fire that burned their house down: a Blüthner upright she has never learned to play. Orphaned, she was raised by her aunt and uncle, who in his car-repair shop trained her to become a first-rate mechanic, much to the surprise of her subsequent customers. But this work, her true mainstay in a scattered life, is put on hold when her hand gets broken while the piano's being moved--and in sudden frustration she chooses to sell it. And what becomes crucial is who the most interested party turns out to be. . .
About the Author
CHRIS CANDER graduated from the Honors College at the University of Houston, in the city where she was raised and still lives, with her husband, daughter, and son. For seven years she has been a writer-in-residence for Writers in the Schools there. She serves on the Inprint advisory board and stewards several Little Free Libraries in her community. Her first novel,11 Stories, won the Independent Publisher Gold Medal for Popular Fiction, and her most recent, Whisper Hollow, was long-listed for the Great Santini Fiction Prize by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. She is also the author of The Word Burglar, which won the 2014 Moonbeam Children's Book Award (silver).
"Deftly plotted and well written, a gentle meditation on the healing power of art--and its limitations. . . . Cander grabs the reader in her bravura, thickly detailed opening pages [and] expertly parcels out her revelations [as] she builds parallel narratives [toward] an odd but beautiful finale."--Kirkus Reviews [starred]
"Like Werner Herzog's Fitzcarraldo, The Weight of a Piano is a visionary work about the madness inherent in all art and the burdens of history that give rise to art and must be carried in turn. The miracle of this wonderful novel is to place an object, weighted with history, in a locale where we would never expect to find it, making the unexpected both palpable and real, and by doing so, this beautiful, intricate novel gives us one indelible picture after another, each one written in a different key."--Charles Baxter
"The Weight of a Piano tenderly illuminates the solace--and the suffering--that art can bring to those who have endured grievous loss. Cander’s ingenious plot braids together vividly disparate geographies and times, swerving deliciously whenever we think we know where she’s heading. She understands love and terror and the uncanny power of inheritance."--Pamela Erens
"Cander takes readers into new and uncharted territory with a story that spans a century, continents, cultures, and many lives. This novel is sly and sexy and serendipitous, and through the magic and wisdom surrounding a single piano it helps to restore what is beautiful in both art and life. To me, The Weight of a Piano already feels indelible."--Peter Geye
"At the heart of this novel is an old German upright piano whose music reverberates through the stories of two seemingly unconnected people: a man on an inexplicable quest to photograph it, and a woman who, despite being unable to play it, can't let it go. Elegantly twisting the strands together, Cander explores how art and music change and enrich our lives, often in wondrous and remarkable ways, and also touches on love and loss, memory and forgetting, perseverance and self-discovery. Like a powerful melody, The Weight of a Piano is haunting, evocative, and impossible to forget."--Christina Baker Kline
"Cander's portrait of two powerful women and the heartbreaking intersection of their families is arresting and affecting, but as all its characters would agree, the real heart of this novel is the Blüthner upright piano we track from its soundboard's origin in a Romanian forest: an instrument so charismatic that for both women it's a way of floating above their world and connecting to a lost home, as well as eventually to a version of themselves they've never before considered. The Weight of a Piano soars when it obsesses and lets us see what it is it hears."—Jim Shepard