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The Piano Man's Daughter

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  4,356 ratings  ·  99 reviews
Narrated by Charlie Kilworth, whose birth is an echo of his mother's own illegitimate beginnings, The Piano Man's Daughter is the lyrical, multilayered tale of Charlie's mother, Lily, his grandmother Ede, and their family. Lily is a woman pursued by her own demons, "making off with the matches just when the fires caught hold," "a beautiful, mad genius, first introduced to ...more
Paperback, 490 pages
Published January 8th 2002 by Harper Perennial (first published 1995)
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Jennifer (aka EM)
May 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Timothy Findley is one of those authors who has always simmered away on the backburner for me. He seems overshadowed by his other contemporaries, i.e. the Canadian pantheon: Atwood, Munroe, Richler, Davies, Laurence. Because he was much else - an actor, a critic, I think also a broadcaster? - his writing competes with his other selves. He deserves wider readership, which seems to be something I say every time I review one of his books. Partly, that's a "note to self" - Jen, fer god's sake, why h ...more
Lorraine
Oct 23, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Canadians
Shelves: canadian
What I found most intriguing about this book is its narration. As a whole, it is narrated by the grandson of the "Piano Man" but he tells the story based on what he learned from his (grandson's) grandmother and mother (the title character) and his own observations. So the story really spans three generations.
I can't articulate what it was about this book that made me enjoy it. I chalk it up to a well-written and unique story with interesting characters. It's not difficult reading by any means,
...more
Sara Norquay
Aug 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
For those who like historical fiction about families with a skeleton in the closet this book will not disappoint. The three generation drama is set in Ontario, Canada and begins during the early part of the 20th century. How various characters react to the inherited madness of the person referred to in the title makes it is hard to put the book down. The beautiful writing creates time and space for the illumination of the reader's own understanding of family values.
Caleigh
Feb 19, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
I started reading this a couple of weeks ago, but partway through got to a section that I found a little too disturbing for my taste ... seeming to foreshadow something rather "Flowers in the Attic"-ish ... so I set it aside. I'm relieved to report that while there were misdeeds done, they were nothing of this magnitude and I was able to finish the book without shutting my eyes or skipping ahead.

The Piano Man's Daughter is the fifth or sixth Findley book I've read, and probably the third to in
...more
Robyn
Jun 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I chose this as my Canadian Lit book to read in English Lit class after having read Not Wanted On The Voyage (also for that class) a few months ago. I really loved Not Wanted On The Voyage, and this book was just as amazing (though very different).
I ABSOLUTELY LOVED it from the beginning till the end and it was just so beautiful.
I laughed, and I cried (for 2 whole chapters....it was very hard to see the words haha)and by the end I didn't want it to end.
Lily and Lizzie are my favourite characters
...more
Megan
May 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
I found this book a lot more... readable than I thought I would. Not because Findley's confusing, or anything, but because I often find his books excellent but too dark to read all in one sitting. This one was considerably lighter.
Mae
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2017
Embarrassed to admit that this is my first Timothy Findley novel particularly since it was such a fascinating read. Set in early 1940s the voice of Charlie leads us through his discovery of who his father is and also reconciles his mother Lily's epileptic madness with his own desire to have children. Language is wonderfully descriptive, the story disturbing yet compelling - hard to put this one down.
Kathy Karchuk
Nov 21, 2015 rated it liked it
The story was sad and full of turmoil. Charlie, son of Lily, the Pianoman's daughter, narrated the story. His search for his father and his fear of fathering stemmed from his mother's mental illness. The understanding of mental illnesses at the turn of the century was archaic and cruel. Hopefully, as a society we have come to better understand and support those who suffer mental (and physical) disabilities.
Lisa
Oct 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
couldn't put it down. will read again and i don't ever read anything twice.
Peter B
Jul 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really wanted to love this book and I almost did. I would have loved it had I been able to keep the characters straight in my head. It seemed there were too many names for me to know them all and in this novel it is important to know the players.
We begin with the incredible romance of Tom Wyatt and Ede Kilworth and the birth of their daughter Lily. It then becomes a story of two families and a child who is both loved and feared.
Her family history includes John Fagan, who burned down a rooming
...more
Susan Dybka
Aug 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was one of the best books I have ever read. The fact that it was written by a Canadian and set in Toronto was a bonus. Excellent character development, beautiful descriptions, historically accurate - just a good read from cover to cover.
Laura
May 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
loved how the story is told from the point of view of the Piano Man's grandson. would have finished this book sooner if the real world would have allowed it.
Rebecca
May 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed this, like being swept away to another time. Pianos tinkle, ants swarm, fires burn. Beautiful.
Barbara Sibbald
Timothy Findley is one of Canada's finest writers and this novel makes that obvious. It's a lyrical tale of a young piano tuner's search for his past, beautifully told in a series of back stories that the reader must piece together with the narrator. His mother, Lily, is particularly finally drawn; we accompany her as she descends into madness, and fully appreciate who she is.
This is a truly marvelous book.
Dianne
Oct 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
This novel was a little slow starting but once it got going it was fascinating. I found it a bit muddled at first, what with the switching back and forth from one time period to another and from one character's life to another. Written with a detachment that it took awhile to get used to, it was a strong story once I got adapted to the style and got everybody sorted out. Somewhere in Section Two, I was hooked.

I must confess that I have started making lists of characters as I read so that I won't
...more
bookczuk
Dec 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to bookczuk by: Nancy Oakes
My feelings are mixed on this book. It took me a little while to get into it, but that was not the author's fault. The writing is beautiful, the characters compelling. But for some reason, the initial time I picked it up to read was not the right time for me. I put it down, determined to get back to it shortly. It took me several months to pick up again, but once I did, there was no stopping me.

There are a multitude of stories in this book. But ultimately it is about family and about love. Not
...more
Trinda
Feb 07, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alison
Apr 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: must-reads
Another brilliant Findley Book. I realize that I might have a bit of an obsession with his novels. What I found most intriguing about this book was his use of Toronto landmarks. As I live in Toronto this book felt very real to me in a way that might not have happened otherwise. As Findley always does, in this book he wonderfully portrays the underdog and the struggle to belong in a society that is far from the perfect we often like to perceive it to be. The part of this book that really stood ou ...more
Devin
Jul 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
This one actually hovers somewhere between 4-stars and 5-stars as it flirts with greatness in spite of some missteps along the way. It falls just short of Findley's better novels while sharing many of the same qualities that make him such a compelling author.
This was an ambitious story of a life and a family that has been dealt an unfortunate genetic card. Mental illness has repeatedly afflicted the Kilworths as they navigate life turn-of-the-century Toronto. A life interrupted by war and seizur
...more
Abbyb1
Dec 10, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The fact that I took so long to read this book has absolutely nothing to do with how well written it is (or isn't) nor does it say anything about the story itself. Instead, it says a lot about my real life and how I tend to get sidetracked a great deal.

The characters in this book are sad searchers, but what they are searching for never comes off as trite or monotonous. At first, I thought Charlie's desire to know his father was cliche and that I'd soon find myself bored to tears, but I must say
...more
Natalie Petchnikow
En 1939, peu avant qu'éclate la Seconde Guerre mondiale, Charlie Kilworth, jeune accordeur de pianos, interroge son passé. Qui fut son père ? Compte tenu des problèmes psychiques de sa mère, comment assumer de devenir à son tour père ? Il décide alors d'entreprendre une lente et douloureuse réappropriation de l'histoire de sa famille.

Peu à peu, le personnage de sa mère, Lily Kilworth - femme sujette à des crises d'épilepsie qui étaient la terreur de son entourage, dans une famille qui dissimulai
...more
Anita
Dec 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I give it 5 stars however at times it was difficult to read as it was so heartbreaking. A generational story that tells of Ede, her daughter (the Piano Man's daughter) Lily and then Charlie-the narrator. I loved Findley's way of writing the history of Toronto in the early 1900's and how the Great War impacted the world. Ede-hopeful, then filled with despair, Lily-so damaged, so alive and tragic, and Charlie the caregiver- that for much of the book I forgot he was only 7 years old. Many of the 's ...more
Kris - My Novelesque Life
Nov 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
4.5 STARS

""Narrated by Charlie Kilworth, whose birth is an echo of his mother's own illegitimate beginnings, The Piano Man's Daughter is the lyrical, multilayered tale of Charlie's mother, Lily, his grandmother Ede, and their family. Lily is a woman pursued by her own demons, "making off with the matches just when the fires caught hold," "a beautiful, mad genius, first introduced to us singing in her mother's belly." It is also the tale of people who dream in songs, two Irish immigrant families
...more
Ricki
Jun 06, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Well-constructed weave of plots, prose that flows with finesse--it's easy to see why this became a classic taught in school. However, for me it was just too long. It was great while I was getting to know the characters well, the slow reveal of their backgrounds and motives, but once all that was in the open there was still too much book left ahead, and I got bored. The section with (view spoiler) seemed unnecessarily gruesome and cruel, ...more
Sheena
I love family sagas, and it's usually because they are so character driven that I grow to completely love and empathize with them. This story was no exception. The main character is Lily Kilworth, a woman suffering from epilepsy and mental illness. Her son Charlie tells her life story after her death, as gleaned from diary entries, conversations with Lily and those close to her. Lily is a brilliant character, heart-breaking yet strong, caring for animals and people considered to be on the fringe ...more
Frank
Aug 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: canadian-fiction
This is very much one of Findley's best -- a densely layered consideration of character and history. After the death of his mother, Lily, Charlie Kilworth goes through a suitcase filled with her keepsakes and, drawing equally on his memories, reconstructs the story of her life, her descent into madness and the mystery of his parentage. As much a journey of self-discovery as the quest to understand the mother who loved, tormented and confounded him, the novel is Charlie's attempt to find the answ ...more
Beth
Feb 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book at a thrift store to have something to read on my beach vacation that wasn't a big investment in case the book fell in the ocean or got lost or something. The back description seemed interesting enough and it's Canadian, so I thought I'd give it a try. The story follows a man trying to sort out the life story of his mother Lily who has mental illness. I enjoyed the beginning which started with his grandmother Ede in rural Ontario in the late 1800s. I love a story set in the ...more
Brianna Lawcock
Jul 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
I love Timothy Findley. I first found Pilgrim and fell in love with that book, and proceeded to pick up any other book of his I could find. This is one of my favorites.

A story told in the view of the grandson as he learned about his history; this is the story of three generations, and the secrets they kept, the people who passed through their lives, and how he came to be who he was. I had no idea that this book would take such a hold on me, and even now, I find myself thinking of the characters
...more
Simone
A beautiful, heartbreaking book. I love Lily, she has such courage in the face of adversity - the misunderstanding of her mental condition, the people who fear her, who shun her and who take advantage of her. Her son, the narrator, is honest and paints a beautiful picture of a woman he himself barely understood. I am re-reading it right now and remember all the reasons I loved it in the first place. Timothy Findley needless to say is a wonderful story-teller, I love the various voices and writin ...more
Michelle
Mar 08, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult, school
I. Hated. This. Book.

I know plenty of people who said that they liked it, that it was really good "for an English class" and the like. However, I constantly read through it completely baffled at why this was.

The characters are hardly likable - Ede's decisions and what she does to Lily are remarkable. The plot plods on, and the narrative is hardly something that was absolutely amazing. In fact, I found the book to be something that I probably would have given up on long before I got as far as I
...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Please clean up title 3 188 Feb 28, 2017 01:16PM  
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Timothy Irving Frederick Findley was a Canadian novelist and playwright. He was also informally known by the nickname Tiff or Tiffy, an acronym of his initials.

One of three sons, Findley was born in Toronto, Ontario, to Allan Gilmour Findley, a stockbroker, and his wife, the former Margaret Maude Bull. His paternal grandfather was president of Massey-Harris, the farm-machinery company. He was rais
...more
“As for the myths, take anyone's life and deny that most of it is deliberate self-delusion - an aggrandizement - a mixture of lies and truth, of what was wanted and what was had, producing the necessary justification for having been granted life in the first place. I was struck like a match, Lily wrote. I had no option but to burn.
You can put a period after that. Lily did. It was the story of her life.”
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“I can't work in a house where there's saints. The minute there's saints, the devil sends messengers” 3 likes
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