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The Piano Maker

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  2,252 Ratings  ·  296 Reviews
The suspenseful, emotionally resonant, and utterly compelling story of what brings an enigmatic French woman to a small Canadian town in the 1930s, a woman who has found depths of strength in dark times and comes to discover sanctuary at last. For readers of The Imposter Bride, The Cellist of Sarajevo, Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay, and The Red Violin.

Helene Giroux arri
Paperback, 288 pages
Published December 29th 2015 by McClelland & Stewart
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Oct 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: xx2017-completed
Once again I have been mesmerized by Kurt Palka’s storytelling and wonderful writing. This is the story of Hélène Giroux, daughter of Master piano makers in France, and later a Master herself. Hélène’s story moves in time and place from the years leading up to WWI through to the 1930’s, and from France to Asia, to England, and to Canada, with many shorter and longer side-trips in between.

During the war years, Hélène loses her mother, her husband, and eventually the family business. She and her y
Ashley Daviau
Jun 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was such a beautiful story and it had me absolutely enthralled right from the get go. Historical fiction is either a hit or a miss for me and this was definitely a hit! It had just the right mix of history and storytelling to draw you right in and really make you feel for the characters. I also really loved that it was partially set in Montreal/Quebec, it made me feel really connected to the story. I really enjoyed how it all came together in the end, it was such a fitting conclusion to the ...more
Diane Barnes
Jul 26, 2017 rated it liked it
A good story, quietly written. I enjoyed the first 2/3 of the book, then it lost steam. It could have been the book, or it could have been me.
Jan 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Enjoyable, intriguing fascinating read with a strong, independent woman as the main character.
Tanya Wiles-bell
Aug 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I adore strong female characters, especially when they are from a time in history, 1814 - 1830's, when it was unusual for women to be skilled craftsmen, have a career, be business smart, have male friends and travel to exotic locales to boot. Helene, from The Piano Maker, is all of that and more. Author, Kurt Palka, tells us Helene's story, which begins in Montmagny, France and ends in Saint Homais, Nova Scotia, with adventures in Haiphong, England, Montreal and Alberta in between, with skill an ...more
Its not often that I will read a book in a day.
What prompted me was my in-person book-club. It was the book-club that recommended we read it, but I was way too absorbed in other books to pick it up until yesterday. I didnt actually plan to read it at that point, mainly because I wanted to wait until I got to Nova Scotia on my cross country tour challenge. However, it seemed I could not put it down for long, as KP really draws the reader in immediately.
The writing is as spare and austere as the
Apr 23, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommended to Erin by: Lydia
This was an easy and highly engaging book to sit out and enjoy the June sunshine this afternoon. "The Piano Maker" refers to the novel's female protagonist, Helene Giroux, who mysteriously appears in a small French village in the easterly Canadian province of Nova Scotia. Residents are intrigued enough to wonder as to why such a unique woman would stay in their little town and the reasoning behind Helene's arrival quickly emerges to the reader's attention.

I've never read a Kurt Palka novel befo
Feb 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. It was well written, and interesting to read about this woman and her very interesting life. It held my interest right from the start. Can't wait to read another book of his.
Jun 30, 2016 rated it liked it
I liked it, though it was nothing particularly remarkable. Reminded me of a lesser version of Burial Rites or even Alias Grace.
Apr 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In einer klaren, wenngleich nicht unpoetischen, sondern atmosphärisch dichten Art und Weise erzählt Kurt Palka von den Unwägbarkeiten des Lebens, insbesondere in der Zeit nach dem Ersten Weltkrieg. Im Mittelpunkt steht die Französin Helene, die in ein abgelegenes kanadisches Städtchen zieht, um neu anzufangen. Nach und nach wird der Leser in ihre Vergangenheit einbezogen und letztlich mit auf eine schicksalhafte Reise genommen, die ihr Geheimnis äußerst spannend preisgibt. (April 2017)
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
Closer to 2.5. The writing and storyline overall were fine; however, it needed more depth, the addition of a plot twist and overall better development of the storyline. It's more akin to a CBC afternoon movie. I don't have any strong dislike for it, only that I wished it had more depth. It was a light breezy (wintery) read.
Feb 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a great little mystery with a strong female lead. The big "reveal" at the end was an interesting situation that makes you wonder what you would do in the same situation. The alternation between past and present was quite seamless as well. It's a very quick read and I liked that points were arrived at quickly; so many authors seem to drag things out! This is a nice succinct story! Enjoy.

Oct 29, 2015 rated it liked it
*Nudging up towards 3.5 stars*

CanLit that isn't CanLit. No earnest, existential navel-gazing here. Just a good old-fashioned yarn that happens to be set in Quebec. Mystery and romance generally make a good combination, and never more than when a mysterious, independent woman arrives in a post-Great War Quebec village.

There are some big issues towards the end, but none of the preachiness you'd normally endure from CanLit. The story holds up all by itself before that point.
Sue Meland
Aug 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book, which was chosen for my book group! Based upon my assumptions made from the title, it went in directions I never would've guessed, which made it all the more enjoyable. I also appreciated that it was a quick read and didn't take a huge time investment. Mr. Palka did a good job of weaving the past and present together as the story came to its conclusion.
Carolyn Somerville
Jun 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I could not put this book down. It had me right from page 1. The back and forth in time was a bit annoying and sometimes confusing but well worth it to keep the suspense. I loved his writing. Not too wordy bit beautifully descriptive. A wonderful book.
Douglas Clarke
Apr 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
An interesting enough yarn. But the depiction of Canadian criminal procedure is abysmal. Thus the courtroom drama is just silly.
I loved this book and the character of Helene. A strong woman who followed her dreams and stayed true to herself over the years. A touching and sad story but wonderful all the same.
Sep 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Read this book in one sitting! Simply got into it and couldn't put it down. A suspenseful read with an interesting, strong woman as the main character.
Kyla Belvedere
Jun 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was a good read. A great mix of European historical fiction and Canadiana. Very original.
Sheila Craig
Solid plot development and decently written with a strong sense of place and time, but lacking character development. The single viewpoint character, Helene, appears wooden and almost soulless because the author, while often describing Helene’s activities in detail, never reveals her motives or emotions. Helene seemed so utterly passionless i never developed a bond with her. In her great crisis, I didn’t care what the outcome was. Meh.
Erin Poll - Tanis
Dec 09, 2017 rated it liked it
This was a quick and entertaining read. It was really quite beautifully written. The story got a little crazy- how does a pianist all of a sudden end up in the wilderness with a dinosaur skull? But other than that, it was okay and I enjoyed it for the most part.
Liz Moxham
Dec 09, 2017 rated it liked it
I’d say this is more like 3.5. Easy to read book - page turner, very likeable main character with an interesting history, and some intrigue. I really enjoyed it, but all the other characters, including the second most important one, were kind of flat, and I wished for more.
Sep 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: canadiana
Probably 3.5 stars. Well written, with a strong heroine. The setting was enjoyable, but somehow the story just did not grab me. Still worthwhile.
Oct 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book. Very well written. A pleasure to read.
Aug 28, 2016 rated it it was ok
Disappointing, to say the least. Apart from the fact that the 'mystery' was pretty obvious almost as soon as there was mention of frostbite, there were numerous little bits that just didn't ring true. I get annoyed at a book that is poorly edited, and that's really the problem with this one. The story might be okay, but the little details just irritate. Helene has a shelf made for her room in the church -- and in one day, the man has showed up with a perfectly made (pegged, fitted, sanded?) the ...more
❀ Susan G
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing

The Piano Maker was a surprise 5 star book. I discovered this author as part of the Canadian summer reading challenge by the County of Brant Library. I had never heard of this author and am sure glad that he was square a on the Bingo Card.

This story followed a woman who arrived in a small Canadian town in a swirl of mystery and gossip while she keeps the community spellbound with her beautiful music. The piano in the parish was built by her family and as s
Sep 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Piano Maker is a well written novel that takes place in Europe and on the French Shore of Nova Scotia Canada.( the home of the Acadians) I liked it a lot as it was a quick read,(the author did not drag out events)as it was written succinctly. It was both a historical fiction and mystery story switching back and forth between the past and present which kept the mystery going to the end. The main character, Helene, is a very strong women;( stoic at times) and a business woman who makes Molnar ...more
Matthew Marcus
Jul 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, favorites
The Piano Maker is the best book I have read this year. It is a difficult book to put down and I found myself making excuses to read, on buses, subways, before classes, etc. It is a mystery. The character development is phenomenal. I really started to like Helene and all she had been through during WW1. The information on the piano factory, her technical skills understanding music as well as her professional talent as a pianist is amazing. Helene joins forces with a man she has been cheated by a ...more
Diane Schuller
Feb 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a well written mystery/historical novel with a strong female lead. I really appreciated the straightforward manner in which this book was written. The mystery of why Helene, the protagonist, ended up where she was and what had occurred before she arrived kept me continually wanting to know more.

The alternating between past and present was quite seamless. The situation revealed at the end genuinely makes you wonder what you would do in the same circumstances. For that reason, I'd suggest
Aug 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Couldn't put this book down after starting. The author takes the time to build and nuture a relationship between the reader and the protagonist Helene Giroux as Helene's story unfolds.

Why has she moved to this small town near the Bay of Fundy? Why does Helene sometimes walk with a limp? Why does she ask to have special shoes made? Why the title "The Piano Maker"?

Loved the way that the author transitions between periods of time. The author included references to historical events, places and th
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