The Mermaid Garden – Santa Montefiore
I’ve read Santa Montefiore once before and been utterly disappointed. However, just one book is not enough to judge a writer, I feel, and so, I went on to pick up another one by her – The Mermaid Garden. Moreover, the plots of her books are so very interesting that you cannot help but pick them up, and then you want to know what really happens in the end so badly that you continue plodding through the books even if you are not really liking them. That’s what happened with me in case of The Mermaid Garden, too.
There are two parallel story lines in The Mermaid Garden. One is set in Tuscany in the 1960s, and involves a little almost-orphaned girl called Floriana. Floriana falls in love with the beautiful sea-side villa that is La Magdalena from the day she sets eyes on it. She gets the opportunity of her lifetime one day when Dante, the young son of the villa’s owner, invites her in for a look-around. Floriana falls even more in love with La Magdalena and its pretty mermaid garden. She begins to believe that her destiny lies in the villa and with Dante. The second storyline is set in the 2000s, in the little coastal town of Devon, England. She and her husband, Grey, are the owners of a lovely heritage hotel, The Polzanze, which is crumbling to bits thanks to the owners’ financial troubles. Marina employs an artist-in-residence, a handsome young man called Rafa Santoro, as a last-ditch attempt to save The Polzanze, and this move of hers brings about many, many changes. How exactly are these two storylines linked? You have to read the book to figure that out!
Like I said earlier, this is not the most perfect of reads, but it has its good points. The characters are well etched out, and the story line is captivating. That said, the mystery, when it is resolved towards the end of the book, lacks a punch. The book, at over 500 pages, is a very long read and could have been cut down by quite a bit. There are many stereotypes in the story, and parts of it are pure chick-lit. I wasn’t thoroughly disappointed with The Mermaid Garden, but wasn’t utterly enamored of it either.
Read it if you are in the mood for a chunkster, but don’t want to strain your brain too much.
The Piano Shop On The Left Bank – T.E. Carhart
The Piano Shop On The Left Bank is a memoir about a piano shop that the author discovers by chance in Paris. The author notices the shop every day, while walking his children to school, but never really goes inside. One day, he decides to pay it a visit, though, and that visit opens up a whole new world for him. The shop brings to the fore the author’s latent love for pianos, and he decides to buy one. Subsequent visits to the shop help the author forge a friendship with the owner which, in turn, teaches him a lot about the different aspects of pianos and the specialties of their various kinds.
I don’t know why I picked this book up, really. I am not particularly interested in pianos or any other musical instrument, actually. I am not interested in knowing the ins and outs of the world of pianos. My interest in music is limited to listening to songs, sometimes instrumental, and enjoying it to the core. But then, there was something about this book that called out to me. I am glad I read it, now.
The book, like I said, opens up a window into the different kinds of pianos there are, and the different aspects of one. In that sense, it enlightened me. Secondly, it is dripping with passion – the book is full of people who are extremely passionate about pianos and music, and that doesn’t leave the reader untouched. That said, the detailed descriptions of the different parts of a piano were not really my cup of tea. Maybe, an enthusiastic lover of pianos would have been able to derive greater value from them.
All in all, I would say I liked the book, though some parts were not for me. Go for it if you are passionate about music and musical instruments.
Have you read either/both of these books? How did you find them?
What are you reading at the moment?