“My brother Tom was a pianist living in London and we’d become estranged. He had problems and was drinking heavily. I live in Ireland and found this wonderful old 1920’s house by the sea; the woman who sold it lived next door. My whole family were due to get together again at my sister’s wedding and Tom was coming over to see us after a gap of a few years, he was going to be staying with me. We were really happy and optimistic that he was coming over and spent months planning everything. He had a history of disappointing us.
As a child, he’d been a kind of prodigy at the piano. I’d always been close to Tom, when we were growing up I was his audience while he practised and played, it had been a feature of my childhood and of my life. When I knew he was going to be staying with me I bought the piano from our neighbour; it was the same piano that had originally been in the house. It was sitting here in our drawing room waiting for Tom. And of course Tom didn’t come to our sister’s wedding in the end, he was held back for his own reasons. The piano has just been sitting here ever since. One of the nice stories I have about it is that my son Leo then took up the piano. My friend Helen is a wonderful pianist and she’s teaching him. She put him in for his first grade and I was making him practice but it sounded really bad. Helen kept telling me to get the piano tuned but I’d been sort of ignoring her.
When it came to Leo’s exam I was outside the room and I could hear someone playing, and it sounded like they were playing perfectly and it was Leo! He’d been playing it properly all along; it’s just that the piano was so out of tune it sounded really terrible at home. He passed with a Distinction so I got the piano tuned for him as a gift. He continues to play so I’m really happy about that.” (Kate Kerrigan)
Kate Kerrigan is an Irish historical fiction author whose books are translated into several languages and sold all over the world. Her novels follow Kate’s theme of drawing parallels between the emotional landscapes of women’s lives in the past with the way women live now.
Connect with Kate at www.katekerrigan.ie