The Upright Piano Player by David Abbott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This story was a bit misleading: we open with a grandfather's mourning the death of his grandson (a death that was, in a tragic tangential way, his fault) in 2004. We then flash back to 1999, where we meet Henry at his retirement - not quite at a time of his choosing, but not quite unwelcome.
Over the next year we see Henry's quiet life become disrupted. An "upright" guy, one who doesn't want to share his personal life with the public, his marriage disintegrates because not only does his wife has an affair with a film star, she does it publicly. Post-marriage, post-retirement, his life revolves around breakfast at a brasserie near his home, a few errands, reading, etc. until he is head-butted on Millennium Eve. That one act seems to cause his life to unravel somewhat: the head-butt-er starts to stalk and harass him, his ex-wife reaches out when she is in the last stages of cancer, and he learns from his long-estranged son that he has a grandson.
Woven in and around this are brief glimpses into the other people in Henry's life. We meet his son, Tom; Colin, the head-butt-er and his girlfriend, Eileen; Maude, a former intern at his company and potential casual partner; Jack, his ex-wife's friend and Nessa, his ex-wife; and a few others. These sideways glances into the people in Henry's world are sometimes on point, and sometimes just a meander into another's life.
The pacing and precise word choice are appealing, but these occasional sidetracks, along with the lack of connection to the prologue, moved this from a five to a four.
Copy provided by publisher.