Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Book Review: Letters to the Pianist by S.D. Mayes

Letters to the Pianist Runs the Gamut of Emotions

There are scenes of hope and happiness in Letters to the Pianist, almost seeming like a fairytale when seen through the eyes of fourteen-year-old Ruth and her younger siblings Gabi and Hannah.  But soon the realities of war and its aftermath intervene and sadness descends as a life is lost or dreams are shattered.  There are also characters to loathe, individuals cruel and heartless almost beyond words.  Romance and love also find their way into the story, passionate in places but never graphic in its portrayal.  And finally, tension abounds, clearly the dominant emotion as the father, Joe, and Ruth find themselves embroiled in situations fraught with peril, literally fighting for their lives in the finale.  With finely crafted prose, author S.D. Mayes elicits the full gamut of emotions.  I have read books that have produced stronger feelings of anxiety or hope or affection, but I’m not sure I’ve read any that have elicited such range of feelings in the span of 400 pages.  Kudos to the author.

The pacing was excellent, as the author keeps you a bit off balance, always wondering what’s next.  Character development was also good, with Joe and Ruth in particular coming to life.  As with many books of this genre, I enjoyed the interplay of history and fiction.  Admittedly, I’m not that well versed on Britain during World War II and the players, although some are nearly universally known.  One of my few unmet hopes in this book was that the author had described some of her research in a note at the end.  However, I did fill in a few holes myself with online searches, again attesting to how gripping I found the tale.  Other than that, the finale at the Douglas-Scott estate was the only other issue, as it seemed a bit convenient, but it was an extremely minor concern given the strength of the story.

Overall, Letters to the Pianist is an excellent book, a truly griping story that will push your emotions to their bounds.

See on Amazon:  https://amzn.to/2KqF5lq

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