Piano from a 4th Storey Window

Jenny Morton Potts

Lawrence Fyre is a flamboyant optimist, running a book shop in the Lanes in Brighton called “Sargasso Sea.”  Marin Strang, a shy but self-composed teacher of Spanish, was brought up as a Jehovah’s Witness but now she appears to be running away, not just from her father but also from life itself, as she flits from one temporary job to another.  And then she comes across Laurence.  At her instigation, they start a relationship which goes through twists and turns and ups and downs as fate, family and circumstance impinge on their time together.

This intriguing story is written mostly as a stream of consciousness in the form of thoughts, emails, memories, conversations and dreams.  There is enough narrative to follow the novel but some concepts such as the imaginary servant, Lolita and “The Ladies and Gentleman” who watch, applaud & disapprove of Lawrie’s actions are difficult to fathom.

The title of this novel, taken from Ani Difranco’s song, “And love is a piano dropped from a fourth storey window and you were in the wrong place at the wrong time,” is a good metaphor for the events that occur.  All life is described; love-making, death, tragedy, humour, modern technology, dysfunctional families and friendship.  The tongue in cheek humour between Marin and Lawrence makes their love for each other much more believable than the technical accuracies of their sex life.

This is not an easy book to get into.  At first I saw Lawrence as a much older man than Marin, due to his eccentricity, but later I began to think I was wrong.  As a reader you find yourself lost in Marin’s feelings of worthlessness.  There are many different characters to understand from their large group of friends in Brighton and later we meet Lawrie’s extended family in the Orkneys.  His nephew Cyrus, possibly aspergic, is remarkably amenable to major life changes while Marin copes with her loneliness by composing unsent emails.

If you make the effort to come to grips with this extraordinary relationship and the way the tale is expounded it is a rewarding read, although like me, you may have to go back to re-read some parts of the text.

Rosie's Book Review team 1

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