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This story needed more attention than I had to give it.  Nearly 80 pages long, it is told from two different points of view and spans a time period of several years.  If you read a few pages here and there, as I did, it’s easy to lose track of characters and shifts into flashbacks.  But that’s okay.  I’m glad I read every word of it.  I’m just looking forward to a time when I can read it all in a sitting with more time to devote.

 

Parts of the story center around a piano recital in the past, and parts of the story center around a fire, or would be house fire, in the present, the present being the 1920s or so.  We see the events filtered through the eyes of Cassie and her brother Loch.  They mostly have to do with the piano teacher, Miss Eckhart, and the best piano student in town, Virgie Rianey.  Cassie has a long history of following behind Virgie in piano lessons, but by the time they are teenagers, Miss Eckhart has deemed insane, and Virgie is sneaking into abandoned houses with a sailor.

 

In the end, Cassie thinks this:

 

What she was certain of was the distance those two had gone, as if all along they had been making a trip (which the sailor was only starting).  It had changed them.  They were deliberately terrible.  They looked at each other and neither wished to speak.  They did not even horrify each other.  No one could touch them now either.

 

Danke schoen…That much was out in the open.  Gratitude—like rescue—was simply no more.  It was not only past; it was outworn and cast away.  Both Miss Eckhart and Virgie Rainey were human beings terribly at large, roaming on the face of the earth.  And there were others of them—human beings, roaming like lost beasts.

 

Who cares if this makes Cassie judgmental or small minded?  This is powerful writing.  This will make the spine tingle.  The story could be twice this length and contain only this passage worth reading and still be considered great.

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