Denise's Reviews > The Education of Delhomme

The Education of Delhomme by Nancy Burkhalter
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it was amazing
Read 2 times. Last read November 21, 2020.

Nancy Burkhalter has written a very unusual historical novel, the story of Frederic Chopin's piano tuner, Delhomme. Delhomme is not a sympathetic character. In an era when most offspring have long left the family nest to strike out on their own, Delhomme is still at home, unhappily working as a stock person for a neighbourhood grocer. His father wanted Delhomme to follow in his shoes and become a doctor. However, Delhomme has a problem. He can not stand the sight of blood. After entering music school, in order to become a pianist and composer, he fails miserably at that too. When Delhomme becomes an apprentice to a piano tuner, he has finally found his ideal vocation. Delhomme gains a rich and famous clientele and becomes the piano tuner for Chopin. But life will not be kind to Delhomme. He is entrapped by Vidocq, the head of government security, and blackmailed into spying on the lover of Chopin, George Sand. He thinks he can satisfy Vidocq by supplying minimal information from her dinner parties and then will be free. But Vidocq is a master in his craft and tortures those who Delhomme has feelings for, if Delhomme does not comply. Will Delhomme continue to support the monarchy and the slippery Vidocq; will he be found out?
Through various social events and concerts, we meet a cross section of Parisian society and thereby learn about the political situation in France, Poland and the rest of Europe, during the reign of Napoleon III. George Sand, the writer, attracted the cream of novelists, musicians and artists from all over Europe to her salon. Many appear in the novel. Since she was a socialist, she was considered an enemy to the monarchy. I would have loved to see the concert, that the author described, with Chopin and other famous composers each playing their own pianos. Or just to hear Chopin, himself. While reading the novel, I kept hearing his nocturnes in my head.
What was very fascinating in the novel was the description of the art of piano tuning. The author like Delhomme, could not find a position in her field after graduating from university and became an expert piano tuner. She does go into detail, how pianos are tuned, how pianos should be placed in a room and in what environment they should be kept to stay in their optimum playing state.
I recommend this book to any lovers of music and literature.

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Reading Progress

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November 21, 2020 – Finished Reading
November 25, 2020 – Shelved

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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Emma Thanks for your lovely review. So glad you enjoyed it
Just a detail, I thought the book was mostly set under Louis Philippe, so right before Napoléon III.

Emma Sorry, I'm wrong

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