The Weight of a Piano: A novel (Paperback)
Set in California, with a particular and vivid cameo in Death Valley, this unassuming yet poignantly told story of a rare piano brings together cultures, love, history and the generations of people whose lives it touched in the motion that the instrument left behind.
- Reviewed by Robin, book club member
February 2019 Indie Next List
“A hulking black piano of Russian origin links the stories of two women: Katya, who must leave behind her beloved instrument when she immigrates to the U.S., and Clara, who is forced to sell her family heirloom when she loses her boyfriend and her home. The obsessive love each woman holds for the piano unfolds as the instrument journeys across continents. Chris Cander has crafted a novel of compelling beauty and characters who are complex, deeply flawed, and magnificently haunting. This will be a five-star beginning to any avid reader’s 2019 book list.”
— Pamela Klinger-Horn, Excelsior Bay Books, Excelsior, MN
Winter 2019 Reading Group Indie Next List
“A young girl is gifted a unique piano by a blind virtuoso. Half a century later, that same piano belongs to a troubled young woman who is trying to make sense of her life and understand the piano’s place in it. She is drawn into a quest that takes her to Death Valley and to a quirky photographer who may have the answers she seeks. This beautifully written, witty adventure, featuring a cast of marvelous characters from the past and the present, is highly recommended.”
— Bob Sommer, Changing Hands, Tempe, AZ
USA TODAY BESTSELLER
In 1962, in the Soviet Union, eight-year-old Katya is bequeathed what will become the love of her life: a Blüthner piano, on which she discovers an enrichening passion for music. Yet after she marries, her husband insists the family emigrate to America—and loses her piano in the process.
In 2012, in Bakersfield, California, twenty-six-year-old Clara Lundy is burdened by the last gift her father gave her before he and her mother died in a terrible house fire: a Blüthner upright she has never learned to play. Now a talented and independent auto mechanic, Clara’s career is put on hold when she breaks her hand trying to move the piano, and in sudden frustration she decides to sell it. Only in discovering the identity of the buyer—and the secret history of her piano—will Clara be set free to live the life of her choosing.
About the Author
Chris Cander graduated from the Honors College at the University of Houston, in the city where she was raised and still lives, with her husband, daughter, and son. For seven years she has been a writer-in-residence for Writers in the Schools there. She serves on the Inprint advisory board and stewards several Little Free Libraries in her community. Her first novel, 11 Stories, won the Independent Publisher Gold Medal for Popular Fiction, and her most recent, Whisper Hollow, was long-listed for the Great Santini Fiction Prize by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. She is also the author of The Word Burglar, which won the 2014 Moonbeam Children's Book Award (silver).
“Immense, intense and imaginative. . . . The Weight of a Piano is about memory and identity. . . . Cander is a smart, deft storyteller [and] understands how something as beloved as a piano can actually be a burden.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“Lyrical...intricate...an intriguing, serendipitous story [that offers] readers access to unique experiences.”
The Washington Post
“The reader is left to contemplate loss and legacy, the novel’s notion of ‘poetry and color and imagination’ lingering like the notes of a distant song. . . . Cander proves herself masterful.”
—The Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Deeply resonant, The Weight of a Piano will resonate with anyone who has been shattered by loss, anyone who is frozen in time or place, unwilling to open themselves to others or unable to overcome the anger that accompanies the absence of love. The life of the piano—and its presence in the lives of [these characters]—lingers in the music of the mind and heart.”
—Historical Novel Society
“Cander has a gift for description. . . . The Weight of a Piano is not just a meditation on the things of our lives, but also an argument that these are also subjective correlatives for all of the things that we cannot stand to lose.”
“Elegiac and evocative. . . . Cander brilliantly and convincingly expresses music and visual art in her writing, capturing both within a near-alien but surprisingly stunning landscape.”
—Publishers Weekly, “Books of the Week”
“Both ambitiously sprawling and shrewdly focused. . . . Cander’s themes run a broad gamut, from the search for love and the complications of marital infidelity to the consequences of childhood trauma and the plight of refugees fleeing a hopeless life. The most enduring theme, however, is the power of art to redeem heartbreak and to provide consolation and, in some cases, hope.”
“A charming, puzzling plot that gets more exciting and addictive the deeper you sink into it. . . . Cander’s unadorned prose composes some truly beautiful descriptions of the joy of music.”
—BookPage (starred review)
“The Weight of a Piano showcases [Cander’s] development as a powerful storyteller, reminding me of Accordion Crimes by the great Annie Proulx. . . . [This is] an original, creative tackling of the essentially solitary human condition; the effort required of women to claim full personhood; and the frightening vulnerability necessary to connect with another, defiant in the face of the transitory nature of all things”
—Lone Star Literary
“Cander interweaves a surprising, time-jumping plot with a deep understanding of her characters’ emotional landscapes. The Weight of a Piano is also an exploration of the healing and cathartic powers of art and music, making it the perfect gift for the creatives in your life.”
“[An] extraordinary tale of pain, fear, loss and love. . . . The Weight of a Piano is a touching story of survival--for two families, two girls, and an instrument.”
“In The Weight of a Piano, two women are linked by one instrument. . . . Chris Cander masterfully reveals how these women’s lives connect (and how the piano came to be made) and, in the process, meditates on grief and living in the past.”
—Real Simple “Five Books That Won’t Disappoint”
“This beautiful tale . . . is impossible to put down and impossible to forget.”
—Library Journal (starred review)
“Strong characterization and attention to detail, whether in the manufacture of a piano or in the desolate beauty of Death Valley, elevate Cander's tale about learning to let go of the past.”
"Deftly plotted and well written, a gentle meditation on the healing power of art--and its limitations. . . . Cander grabs the reader in her bravura, thickly detailed opening pages [and] expertly parcels out her revelations [as] she builds parallel narratives [toward] an odd but beautiful finale."
Fuddles's experience with dogs is something I can understand since I have a lot of dog friends visit me at the store. Except I don't have to deal with any puddles they make. A story that reminds you friends can be found in interesting places. - Pippi, bookstore cat