Who is Hélène Giroux and what led her to Nova Scotia’s French shore? This is the lingering question in Kurt Palka’s The Piano Maker. The novel is primarily set in the 1930s with flashbacks to Hélène’s early life, including time at her family-owned piano factory in Fance. Through these and other events, the reason Hélène is in Nova Scotia is shown to be connected to a family acquaintance: Nathan Homewood.
While this mystery and its rich historic detail, is enough to keep readers interested, The Piano Maker, has its faults. There is too much time spent on flashbacks building up to an event that seems to be glossed over. Even still, The Piano Maker is filled with a few characters and events that have nothing to do with the current situation.
Ultimately, The Piano Maker’s inability to escape the past, much like Hélène, is the thing that takes away from an otherwise engaging, suspenseful story.