An old piano, one neglected for many years is at the heart of this new novel by Patrick Davis. What possible story could involve an old piano? Well let me turn that question around, in fact I will answer the question with another question, I am sure that you either own something old, or know someone that does, would it not be wonderful to know the story behind it? Who owned it before, why did they have it? Was it a gift? Was it important to someone at some point. I still own a wonderful antique stationary steam engine, a child’s toy, built in the early years of the 20th century, it is still in the original wooden packing crate, and some of the original cans of grease and other items are in the crate. I was given it in the early 1960′s, and every time I think about it, I wonder what it’s story is. What history it has behind it? It was clearly an expensive item, but who played with it?
Silent Note opens with Maria Weisman, an antiques dealer who discovers an old but rather battered upright piano, the local library has decided to auction it off. The happiness of having the winning bid is quickly foreshadowed by the discovery that she has terminal leukemia. The antique shop closes and a few possessions, including the piano take up residence in the family garage. It is a year later when now motherless 5 year old daughter Melissa expresses an interest in learning to play an instrument. Widower John Weisman suggests several instruments and Melissa chooses the piano.
After several months of lessons Melissa wants a keyboard at home to practice on, Johns inclination is to buy her a new piano, but Melissa insists she would like to play mommy’s. Using the tireless logic of a five year old, she reasons that ‘Mommy loved that piano, so I will love that piano.’
Upon wrestling the weathered piano into the house they discover a key that does not play correctly and a Piano Tuner’s services are requested. The problem is revealed to be a small ornate wooden box that is obstructing the string.
It is the contents of the box that capture John’s interest, a yellowed photograph of a young couple, a stack of correspondence between a gifted young piano player, Elsa Thompson, and a young Engineering student, Grant Ford, and a fountain pen that likely was used to write the young ladies letters. The letters cover a two year period, 1915 though 1917, and chronicle a chance friendship that grows into a romantic relationship. The letters are tantalizing, a glimpse into the past, to an era that was very different to today. The letters do not tell the whole story, they are merely a tantalizing tease. What happened next? What became of the young lovers?
I would share more about the plot, but like the letters, I am also a tease!
Patrick Davis has taken a very interesting approach to the make up of this book. It really consists of three very distinct sections. Part One is used to set the scene. Part Two takes us through the correspondence as viewed through the young lovers eyes, and Patrick has done a very fine job of recreating the tone and language of the day. Finally Part Three is John’s quest to find the elusive history behind both the young couple in the photograph, and the piano.
I am sure that some would slap the ‘Chick Lit’ label on The Silent Note, I do not think that is a fair description, while the story line clearly has a romantic element, there is also a lot more to this book. I started this review talking about my model Steam Engine, and I will end on the same note. Have you never wondered about the history behind some artifact that you either own, or a friend, or family member does?
I enjoyed The Silent Note, it is well thought out, and has a most unexpected ending. It has also been exceedingly well researched from a historical perspective, and extremely well edited, which from a reviewers perspective is a rarity with POD (Print On Demand) imprints. Kudos to all involved.