The Piano Shop on the Left Bank

The Piano Shop on the Left Bank

The Hidden World of A Paris Atelier

Book - 2000
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Walking his two young children to school every morning, Thad Carhart passes an unassuming little storefront in his Paris neighborhood. Intrigued by its simple sign--Desforges Pianos--he enters, only to have his way barred by the shop's imperious owner. Unable to stifle his curiosity, he finally lands the proper introduction, and a world previously hidden is brought into view. Luc, the atelier's master, proves an indispensable guide to the history and art of the piano. Intertwined with the story of a musical friendship are reflections on how pianos work, their glorious history, and stories of the people who care for them, from amateur pianists to the craftsmen who make the mechanism sing. The Piano Shop on the Left Bank is at once a beguiling portrait of a Paris not found on any map and a tender account of the awakening of a lost childhood passion.
Praise for "The Piano Shop on the Left Bank"
" Carhart's] writing is fluid and lovely enough to lure the rustiest plunker back to the piano bench and the most jaded traveler back to Paris."
-"San Francisco Chronicle "
"Captivating . . . Carhart] joins the tiny company of foreigners who have written of the French as verbs. . . . What he tries to capture is not the sight of them, but what they see."
-"The New York Times"
"Thoroughly engaging . . . In part it is a book about that most unpredictable and pleasurable of human experiences, serendipity. . . . The book is also about something more difficult to pin down, friendship and community."
-"The Washington Post"
"Carhart writes with a sensuousness enhanced by patience and grounded by the humble acquisition of new insight into music, his childhood, and his relationship to the city of Paris."
-"The New Yorker"
Publisher: Toronto : McArthur, c2000
ISBN: 9781552781715
Branch Call Number: 786.2 CAR
Characteristics: 242 p. ; 23 cm


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WVMLStaffPicks Dec 18, 2014

Paris--a neighbourhood, and one man’s discovery of a magical shop full of pianos catering to select customers. His fascination with the instrument, its history and makers kindles his desire to play again. With a wonderful Parisian atmosphere and everything you might want to know about the instrument, this is a quiet read to savour.

Jun 10, 2014

This book certainly makes me want to get back into playing piano again, and to take a trip to France. You grow a fondness for the pianos through the two main protagonists that make music feel again like a fun magical escape, kind of how the film Hugo makes you feel about cinema.

If you are interested in the piano itself, and its history including the past famous musicians, as well as European culture, this book could be enjoyable for you.

For those not into sitting through the small details of how pianos work or looking for inspiration to start playing yourself, I would not say "don't read it", as it isn't a bad book, but I wouldn't personally recommend it for you.

StratfordLibrary Mar 22, 2013

Blind Date With a Book Comment: "Very disappointed in the story. All it talked abut was different pianos which started to become boring. I liked the characters, but the story was not very interesting."

Jan 06, 2011

I hoped that this would interesting as the comments on the cover suggested it was but I found it very slow and almost plotless. I am not educated regarding the piano or its music and I thought this book might educate me. I am sure it would have but I kept falling asleep whilst reading it, it just did not hold my interest at all. If you are not already fascinated with the piano I would not recommend it to you.


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Jul 28, 2016

Ever since the piano was invented, people have longed to own one. By the nineteenth century, the big, unwieldy instruments were everywhere: they shrank in the heat of the colonies, swayed on steamships, and sang in the drawing room of every genteel home. Some of these old pianos have become treasured family heirlooms, some just firewood. But others have led a more itinerant life, occasionally finding their way to a secret, glass-roofed workshop in Paris where they are lovingly restored by a piano repairer with a passion for his job.When T.E. Carhart came upon Luc and his atelier, his life changed. As he explored the Eldorado of pianos in Luc's back room, absorbed Luc's wisdom on life and music and finally found the baby grand of his dream, he rediscovered his deep love for this most magical of instruments. In this wonderfully atmospheric book, full of Parisian life, the story of a musical friendship and a mutual obsession is intertwined with reflections on how pianos work, their glorious history and the people who care for them, from the most amateur pianists to the tuner and craftsmen who make the mechanism sing.

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