The Piano Maker
Helene Giroux arrives alone in St. Homais on a winter day. She wears good city clothes and drives an elegant car, and everything she owns is in a small trunk in the back seat. In the local church she finds a fine old piano, a Molnar, and she knows just how fine it is, for her family had manufactured these pianos before the Great War. Then her mother's death and war forces her to abandon her former life.
The story moves back and forth in time as Helene, settling into a simple life, playing the piano for church choir, recalls the extraordinary events that brought her to this place. They include the early loss of her soldier husband and the reappearance of an old suitor who rescues her and her daughter, when she is most desperate; the journeys that very few women of her time could even imagine, into the forests of Indochina in search of ancient treasures and finally, and fatefully, to the Canadian north. When the town policeman confronts her, past and present suddenly converge and she must face an episode that she had thought had been left behind forever.
1. When Hélène first arrives in Saint Homais, Father William talks about her being “uncommitted,” and asks her if there’s anything he should know that would prevent her from being active in the church. What do you think would have happened if she had told the priest the truth?
• "Deeply engrossing and unforgettable... will leave readers shouting 'bravo' for the resiliency of the human spirit." Publishers Weekly
• "Showcases Palka's great attention to detail, which enhances an already beautiful and deeply moving story of hope, love, and triumph." Booklist (starred review)
• "In much the same way as Carol Shields did for Daisy Goodwill Flett in The Stone Diaries, Kurt Palka gives dignity to a life lived." Winnipeg Free Press