The Weight of a Piano by Chris Cander

The Weight of a Piano

Chris Cander

Katya loses her piano during her emigration from Russia to the US. Yet fifty years later, Clara Lundy chooses to sell a piano her father had given her. And the interested party presents a surprising turn of events.

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For fans of Ann Patchett's Bel Canto, Annie Proulx's Accordion Crimes, Amanda Coplin's The Orchardist

A tour-de-force about two women and the piano that inexorably ties their lives together through time and across continents, for better and for worse.

In 1962, in the Soviet Union, eight-year-old Katya is bequeathed what will become the love of her life: a Blüthner piano, built at the turn of the century in Germany, on which she discovers everything that she herself can do with music and what music, in turn, does for her. Yet after marrying, she emigrates with her young family from Russia to America, at her husband's frantic insistence, and her piano is lost in the shuffle.
     In 2012, in Bakersfield, California, twenty-six-year-old Clara Lundy loses another boyfriend and again has to find a new apartment, which is complicated by the gift her father had given her for her twelfth birthday, shortly before he and her mother died in a fire that burned their house down: a Blüthner upright she has never learned to play. Orphaned, she was raised by her aunt and uncle, who in his car-repair shop trained her to become a first-rate mechanic, much to the surprise of her subsequent customers. But this work, her true mainstay in a scattered life, is put on hold when her hand gets broken while the piano's being moved--and in sudden frustration she chooses to sell it. And what becomes crucial is who the most interested party turns out to be. . .

Advance Galley Reviews

The most beautiful part of The Weight of a Piano by Chris Cander is the opening chapter in the forests of Germany. That chapter feels the most real; I wish the rest of the book lived up to that opening. Overall, Too many circumstantial things align to bring this story together in too fitted a way that, for me, it loses its emotional connection and reality. Read my complete review at Reviewed for Penguin First to Read program.

The Weight of a Piano by Chris Candor was an interesting but frustrating read. The main story lines of the two women who own the piano are interesting, especially the story of the immigration from Russia. However, ultimately I felt the tie in between the two characters was weak, and the son and the traveling photography trip to death valley not all that believable. Good enough read, but not one I would specifically recommend to anyone.

This is the story of a piano, a Bluthner piano, made in Germany a long time ago. One of the owners took it with him to Russia. All we know of him is that he played the piano very well and he had no family with him. Everyone was afraid of him except for Katya. Because of that he taught her to play, and when he died, he left the piano to her. From then on, when Katya had the piano, she was happy. When she was without it, she was sad. To get it out of Russia when she left, she had to let someone else have the piano. It came back to her. She fell in love with Bruce. She entrusted the piano to him to keep her even more unhappy husband from destroying it. Bruce pretended to give it to his daughter Clara. Then he died in a fire and Katya thought the piano had burned up also. Clara kept the piano because it had been a gift from her father just before he died although she had never wanted a piano and couldn't play it. This piano went from being a deeply loved instrument to a room-sized paperweight of memories. But the circle must be closed. Katya's son, Greg, a photographer, tried first to buy the piano and then just rented it. He wanted to photograph the piano in places in Death Valley to match pictures taken by his parents when they had first come to America. While we focus on Katya and Bruce and Clara and Greg, the real star of the story is the piano. We don't know everywhere it went, but we know where its home was. We know what it meant to all of the people it met, even those not named here. I enjoyed the story. I got the copy of the book I read for this review from First to Read.

Something strange happened and I couldn't read this book. :( a problem with the format.

Absolutely intriguing read, it was a lovely change from what I'm used to reading. I recommend this book highly!

It’s an easy read with an alternating narrative. The first chapter tells of the process followed by a particular piano craftsman from the selection of a tree through its consruction, which grants the tree as a piano a sense of spirit and a sort of voice. The narrative advances the stories of two women separated by time who owned a particular piano. There are digressions into lists of things, first in the parts and process of constructing a piano and later photography that felt like reading a recipe. They slowed the story and I skimmed through them. A chapter that embued consciousness to the piano fell flat. This isn’t a book I would recommend.

I received an advanced copy of this book from First to Read in exchange for an honest review. I honestly wasn't sure what I would think of this book based on the description, but I'm glad that I got an advanced copy of it. It took awhile to get into the story with the alternating perspectives, but the stories were interesting, I liked how the piano tied the stories together.

The Weight Of A Piano had great settings based in Bakersfield and Death Valley which for someone who lived in California loved visiting so was a treat to read a visual description of the Valley itself and misses it's vast beauty since I have moved away. This story runs over the decades of two women- Katya a Soviet Union Immigrant whose story starts in 1962, and 2012's 26-year-old Clara both of whom don't know the strength that they hold in themselves. The unique Bluthner Piano was like having an extra, extraordinary, living character that carried its lines throughout the women's lives. Although the story was a visual adventure, I was annoyed with Clara's personality and maybe it was only because she and I are similar in that we are headstrong, make impulsive moves and can't let anyone in so we can protect our hearts from breaking. Chris Candor has a way of writing that has tempted me to read more of her books as I thoroughly enjoyed the premise of this story. Thanks, Penguin Randomhouse Publishing for letting me get a crack at the story before it hit the shelves.

While I enjoyed the Death Valley setting (and even the Bakersfield scenes), I could not connect with any of the characters. The author interwove history and music into the narrative seamlessly, and I enjoyed these aspects of the novel. But it just wasn't a story that grabbed me.

This was a beautiful novel! I enjoyed the way the characters’ real emotions were depicted, not just glossed over. This is another novel that exceeded my expectations of it! The story is about the piano that Katya received when she was a young girl in the Soviet Union. Katya is forced to leave behind her beloved piano when she comes to America with her husband. Many years later, Clara becomes the owner of this same piano. Katya and Clara and their emotions of joy, humor, pain, and loss are depicted in a wonderful way through their mesmerizing stories. The storyline is about the different layers of the different stories of these people who were influenced by the piano in their lives. Along the way, the story is both beautiful and heartbreaking at times.

This was an intriguing story of two women  who own the same piano at two different points in history for two very different reasons.  The stories eventually come full circle when a mysterious man wants to rent the piano for a photo shoot in different parts of Death Valley.  This was a beautifully written story of forgiveness and letting go of the things that weigh us down, even a piano.

Set in both the Soviet Union in 1962 and in Bakersfield, CA in 2012, Chris Cander's The Weight of a Piano masterfully braids together the stories of Katya and Clara and those who play important roles in their lives through the symbolic use of a special piano. The power of music and the necessity of coping skills to survive life's upheavals are explored along with interesting twists in this intriguing novel. Thank you to Penguin's First to Read for introducing me to Chris Cander with an ARC. I look forward to reading other books by this talented writer.

Interesting and entertaining story. Intriguing characters and the piano that is a focal point in the story. Good read.

This is a beautifully written story that tribes to examine many aspects of relationships. I thought it was clever to use a piano to signify the “weights” we all carry around and how we may sometimes carry those weights because we think we are supposed to or just don’t know how to let them go.

Although a little predictable at times, the Weight of a Piano is an enjoyable novel that leads the reader on a tale of personal discovery through the magic of music. The piano becomes the primary driving force for our two characters Clara and Gregory and leads them to discover their shared past and ultimately their futures. Highly recommended for music enthusiasts, and readers of women's fiction.

It took some time for me to warm up to this novel about two women and the piano that connects their histories. I think that dual timelines are beginning to be overdone in contemporary novels, but, in this case, I didn't feel that interrupted the story too much. The main character, Clara, showed a lot of growth over the course of the story, and she developed a lot of insight about herself. I loved the ending and the choice Clara made. The descriptions of Death Valley were well done and added to my enjoyment of the book. Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

In 1962, 8-year-old Russian Katya receives a piano, which is bequeathed to her by her elderly neighbor, who recognizes the music in Katya. The piano is a German Bluthner. Katya becomes a gifted pianist and she brings the best out of the piano. But her piano is lost to her when her husband decides to leave Russia with high hopes of starting a new life in America with Katya and their son. In 2012, Clara is torn about whether she should sell her Bluthner piano, which was given to her by her beloved father as an early 12th birthday present. She never learned to play it and has had to have it moved every time one of her relationships ends. But the piano is special to her since her father gave it to her shortly before he and her mother died in a fire. When she impulsively decides the piano must go, the buyer brings a connection with the piano that completely takes Clara off guard and brings her on a unique road trip through Death Valley. I loved how this book begins with the building of this particular piano. The details in this chapter are fascinating, from the slow choosing of the right tree to the long drying out of the wood to the final building of the exquisite piano in a factory in Leipzig. It made the piano come alive in my mind and immediately built a connection with it. In alternating chapters, the author introduces the two women who have such a love for this piano – Katya and Clara – and carefully weaves their stories together. Their stories are beautifully told, with a slow and careful intent towards the brilliant ending. Recommended.

This book is described as: “A tour-de-force about two women and the piano that inexorably ties their lives together through time and across continents, for better and for worse.” Chris Cander is a new author for me. “The Weight of a Piano” is one of the best books I have ever read. I found the story fascinating, compelling, heart breaking at times, and a real page-turner. My emotions were all over the place as this story took a Russian family to live in the United States. The process the family experienced leaving Russia and getting to the United States was very difficult and what one family member anticipated never came to pass. “In 1962, in the Soviet Union, eight-year-old Katya is bequeathed what will become the love of her life: a Bluthner piano built at the turn of the century in Germany.” She loves music and becomes an accomplished pianist. After she marries she reluctantly immigrates with her husband and young son to America. It is a difficult move and the piano is lost in the shuffle. In 2012, in Bakersfield, California, twenty-six-year-old Clara Lundy is in the process of finding another apartment. Her move is complicated by the gift her father had given her on her twelfth birthday, shortly before Clara’s Mother and Father died. Fortunately, for Clara, her Bluthner piano was not in the house at the time of the fire. The piano was the only thing left that Clara could hold on to that represented her previous life with her parents. After the fire, Clara lived with her aunt and uncle. Her uncle had a car-repair shop and over time he trained her to be a first-rate

I could not put this book down. This was my first experience reading Chris Candor and I really enjoyed his writing. The characters were well developed and the scenes were vivid. I could picture myself experiencing the story along with the characters. I really enjoyed how the piano was the main tether keeping it all together. I would recommend this book to others.

An easy and flowing read that alternates with past and present views that are all connected by an old and beautifully crafted piano. We get to be there from the creation of the piano in Europe over 100 years ago (one of the most poetic and well-written parts of the book) all the way to its current owner in modern-day Death Valley in California. This book is all about connections and life choices and the weight that we attach to people, memories, and objects. It's not life-changing or a literary triumph, but it's a very pleasant read that resonates with true emotion.

Letting Go of the Past and Finding Love Clara has lost another boyfriend because she can’t commit to a long term relationship. She has to move again and that means carting her Bluthner piano to yet another apartment. This time on the second floor. In the move, she hurts her hand and finally decides she’s had enough of a piano she doesn’t play. Time to sell it. Katya a young girl in the Soviet Union is entranced by hearing a neighbor play the Bluthner piano. When the old man dies, he leaves the instrument to Katya who becomes a talented musician. She marries Mikhail, who becomes frustrated by his inability to provide for his family. He convinces her to move to California telling her that one day she will get her piano back. This is not only the story of Clara and Katya. It is also the story of the piano One of the most interesting parts of the book is the author’s description of how the Beuthner pianos were created. The writing is beautifully done and pulls you into the story. There is a romance, but more it is the story of finding yourself and letting go of the past. I enjoyed the book and recommend it if you enjoy well written romance that also explores the theme of artistic inspiration and how the talent and problems of the parents affect the children. I received this book from First to Read for this review.

I enjoyed reading this and liked how the chapters alternated between past owner of piano and current. The puzzle pieces of the "life" of the piano coming together in the end.

To be honest, I didn't love it. But I also didn't hate it. Just couldn't get into it.

The Weight of a Piano is carefully tuned literary fiction. It finds the perfect moment to tug at all the right emotions, leaving you in a reverent, contemplative silence by the end. Each chapter switches back and forth between the POVs of Carla, the current owner of the piano, and Katya, the former owner. Carla is a young mechanic who lost her parents in a tragic fire; the piano being the only physical object that remains of the fond times with her family. Katya is a Russian immigrant who was obligated to leave her beloved piano in Europe when she left to seek refuge in the United States. The piano is a metaphor for both of their lives, a placeholder for both of their souls and essences. Eventually, and for reasons that she can’t quite articulate, Carla finds herself on a road trip across the desert, trailing behind the moving truck that carries her piano for the photographer she lent it to. This book is absolutely lovely, gripping and poetic. I highly recommend it, especially if you’re the kind of person who enjoys self-reflective indie movies about cathartic road trips. I would recommend this to (see above), as a beach/travel read, or to people who enjoy a little romance in novels but don’t want to read from the romance section.

Thanks to FTR and publishers for an ARC of the book. I thought this would be a 'weighty' book, pun intended. Having recently finished a russian cold war era book I had similar expectations of this one. But this is, at the heart of it, a love story and a woman called Clara trying to understand her past, to come to terms with her present. So read it as a romance and you wont be dissapointed. This book starts well, with descriptions of Piano making. Its an easy read with varying emotions and some cliffhangers. I liked the story of Katya more than Clara, which had more passion. Clara's decision to follow men across the state renting her Piano seemed impractical to me, but literary license right? I didnt love this book, but read it in one sitting so it is definitely gripping enough. One piano tied these two families across generations and the closure seemed befitting to me. An epilogue about Clara would have been even better ending to the book. rating- 3 stars.


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