A story about how learning to play the piano shaped the lives of the author and her grandmother, worlds and generations apart. Girls at the Piano is a musical mystery, a personal exploration of the purpose of years of intensive music study, and a tour through the changing relationship between women and the piano over the course of the instrument’s history.

‘I felt pulled toward my grandmother by what little I knew and an urgent desire to find other parallels between our experiences as musical girls. I wanted to explore how our experiences reflected those of other girls drawn from the pages of history and fiction who had sat at the piano over the course of its history. I came to believe that setting aside Alice’s mask of old age might help me to understand my own voyage around the piano – and help me to find my way back.’

‘Staring into the piano’s black mirror was like seeing into the future, glimpsing the girl I would become the girl who could play the piano and understand the world around her through her fingertips, and let her hands speak for her when she could not.

A young professional woman finally meets the man she wants to spend the rest of her life with, only to discover that he is terminally ill. After her beloved John’s death from cancer, Virginia was faced with addressing the chronic rising damp problem in the house they had shared and, over her first year as a young widow, her house had to dry from the inside out – and so did Virginia. The Young Widow’s Book of Home Improvement is a wry and touching love story that plays with the parallels between our homes and ourselves.

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