Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler...Former teacher... Scientist... Published author... Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published November 13th 2019
When love means forever
I have reviewed another book by Jennifer White The Eyes of Death here and so when I discovered that she had produced and released another book a self-published novella I went onto Amazon and bought the Kindle version. I bought it just after midday. At almost five o'clock in the afternoon, I finished and felt like I'd been through an emotional wringer. I re-read it the next day, taking my time. I still couldn't stop.
The book is The Teacher's Piano: A Novella by Jennifer White (2019).
The problem is, to tell too much would be to spoil it. Once I started, I could not stop reading it (much to the chagrin, I am sure, of my university lecturers if they knew). I was completely sucked into the piece.
All right, let's start with the negatives. There are a few punctuation errors in it and the chapter heading formatting is not consistent, both of which are quite common in self-published works. As I read a lot (and the fact I write so few book reviews shows the standard of what I read I only review stuff I consider good, or better), and particularly a lot of stuff self-published, I am seeing this more and more.
However, my biggest issue with the book is the use of present tense. It is used to separate events in the past (written in past tense) and events happening now (written in present tense). This is something I am also seeing more and more of. I am not a fan of stories told in the present tense, but it seems to be something that is a modern writing trend. Present tense, to me, tells of something urgent, and not many stories need to have that feel about them.
So, I have to say, when I started to read this, the present tense usage drew me out of the story in the first few chapters.
But this is where the positive comes in. Because the story and the imagery and the writing are so engaging, within five chapters, it didn't matter. The characters were so well realised and the story so engrossing that I was lost in it. White's use of language just transports you to this lonely, little school building, with its piano, and into the minds of the characters.
Each chapter is told from the point of view of a different character, which helps keep the story moving along nicely and fast but also keeps the sense of mystery with it. I started to get a hint of where it was leading about two-thirds of the way through, but I am also a writer, and I am reasonably sure that many readers might not see what was coming.
The story relates how Max is repairing the old school his grandfather Benjamin had been principal at. Benjamin lives with Max and his family after the death of his wife, Max's grandmother. But there is a reason why Benjamin wants it repaired, and not just for historical purposes. The truth is revealed through the chapters that relate to a time sixty years previously. But the final denouement comes right at the end. While I admit, I did see it coming, again, I write in the horror genre, so I might not be the best to hide things from.
Still, it was actually quite the heart-breaking letter to finish it all off.
I have to admit, I wasn't sure about the character of Sara Jean in the modern setting, but it worked magnificently. There was love there, and the love ended up conquering all. And the fact that it saved the marriage of Max and Suzanne because of what they went through added an extra layer of that romance story to it all. Then the Epilogue tied it all up neatly.
There was an element of sadness throughout the story, of a life lived with regret, of not being able to change the past, and having to live with decisions that were made, things out of our control, and the way our lives turned out. But then that was tempered with the hope of a finality after death that was so well-written that it could bring a lump to the throat of even the hardest of people.
In the end, as an author's note, White gives a run-down of how the story came to be: it started life as a short story written for a contest. And she includes at the end that original story. This is the sort of thing that I, as a writer, find fascinating. She has taken a short story and turned it into something longer and far more romantic. I really do prefer the novella form of the tale.
So, if you're after a paranormal romance with some nice twists and a sense of hope, and want a short-ish read, then this is for you. This is one of the better books in that genre I've read.