Piano from a 4th Storey Window by Jenny Morton Potts
Review by Marius Gabriel
Remember to see below for info on how you can win one of THREE FREE COPIES!
This is everything a novel by a new author should
be. It's fresh, quirky, different,
affecting, beautifully written – and it hugely entertaining.
Piano from a 4th Storey Window is a very rich novel. For one thing,
it's a very brave book and a very honest one. It doesn't flinch from themes that are often glossed over in fiction,
but which are part of everyday life, for better or for worse.
It's also a book suffused with human warmth, with
characters so vivid and alive that you find yourself forgetting they are the
author's invention, and very soon start to think of them as real.
Perhaps most importantly of all, it's a wonderful love
story -- not a story about the kind of "love" where people tie each
other up and get out the whips, nor the kind of "love" that exists
only on luxury yachts and mansions, but regenerative love, love which survives
tragedy and heartbreak, love which makes the broken whole again.
The protagonists, Marin and Lawrence, are two bright
young things who believe that they are "not like other people." But life is to show them that they are not
immune from the terrible things that happen to "other people."
She is a teacher, he a bookseller (both brave
occupations, you will notice) and each comes trailing a history -- previous lovers,
family problems, troublesome relations, work issues. Her background is a home governed by the rigid
rules of a religious sect. His
background is secular, disorganized and permissive. She is a sensitive introvert who thinks too
much, he doesn't give a damn. She is shy
and easily wounded, he is the centre of a bustling social life. If they are to make their love work, they
need to surmount the problems in their past, as well as the whole boatload of
problems their own relationship brings them.
Through pain and conflict, they are to achieve
maturity, as well as a measure of self-understanding. They will leave much of their old selves
behind, along the journey. But the destination
promises to be sublime, and they need to have courage to get there.
A feature of the novel is the portrayal of a number of
medical issues and conditions. These are
explored and described with great compassion; the author's humanity shines
through at these sad moments.
And yes, this novel does have passages that are almost
unbearably sad. And there are moments
of tenderness that are handled so exquisitely that you will find tears in your
eyes. But it is also a funny, witty,
sexy and lively novel which dances along at a brisk pace. The erotic scenes are particularly well-done. The description of Lawrence and Marin's first
time together is, I think, quite unique in fiction!
The characters, incidentally, range from childhood to
old age, and each is handled with insight and accurate observation. This is a cunning author, and I feel rather
sympathetic for her friends: she strikes me as the sort of person who might put
you in a book when you weren't looking.
While reading this, I asked myself more than once
whether this was chick lit, a book for women only? Would I recommend to a male friend? Well, I absolutely loved it, and I'm a man; I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to a male reader. The quality of the writing, and the depth of
feeling in this novel, set it apart from the field. Not just apart – head and shoulders above.
This was one of the best reads of the year so far for
me. The author writes beautifully, in an
intimate, heart-to-heart style which draws the reader in from the first
page. Engaging as her style is, it's not
for careless readers. You need to
concentrate on the words, and her beautifully-constructed sentences sometimes
repay a second or even a third re-reading.
All in all, Piano from a 4th Storey Window is a triumph. A beautiful book with a beautiful ending, it develops a
tremendous emotional charge quite unique in these days of too-clever, too-cool
fiction. If you're looking for
heartfelt, sincere, courageous fiction for grown-ups, this is it.
Highly recommended to all readers. It's hard to imagine
anyone who won't fall in love with this novel and its cast of remarkable
Jenny Morton Potts has so graciously and kindly offered THREE FREE COPIES of Piano from a 4th Storey Window to a few lucky readers. To have your chance at winning one, simply comment below to get your name in the draw OR at this review's Facebook thread located here.
About the author: Jenny Morton Potts was born in a smart, dull suburb of Glasgow where the only regular excitement was burglary. Attended a smart, dull school where the only regular excitement was the strap. Worked in smart, dull sales and marketing jobs until realising she was living someone else’s life.
Escaped to Gascony to make gîtes. Knee deep in cement and pregnant, Jenny was happy. Then autism and a distracted spine surgeon who wanted to talk about The Da Vinci Code wiped out the order. Returned to wonderful England – and unlikely ever to leave again – Jenny, with assistance from loyal hound, walked and swam her way back to manageable health.
Jenny would like to see the Northern Lights but worries that’s the best bit and should be saved till last. Very happily, and gratefully, partnered for 28 years, she ought to mention, and living with inspirational child in Derbyshire. You can find more information, including about the movie version of Piano from a 4th Storey Window, at the author's website.
Marius Gabriel is the author of The Testament Of Marcellus and a number of historical thrillers. His new novel, Wish Me Luck As You Wave Me Goodbye, will be available August 2015. You can find him at his Amazon UK author page as well as Twitter