The second half of the book is more gripping than the first because the climax of the story is coming as the pianist on the train talks about his life and what became of his thwarted ambition to play the piano.
He tells of how the war saved him because he was able to steal the identity of a dead solider who had been killed in one of the first battles with the Germans. Having stolen the identity he goes on to fight through the war until chance puts him in the right place to become a general’s driver. He keeps driving for the general after the war and is finally introduced to his daughter. They flirt on the edge of an affair before she realises it is a crush and there is too much of a difference between their worlds.
But before the ties are cut she involves him in her engagement party where he is meant to perform a couple of piano songs that she is to be credited with teaching him. He stumbles through the first but then plays the second with a level of professionalism that shocks and brings the curtain down on that relationship.
The train arrives at Moscow and the pianist tells his fellow traveller that the general’s daughter married but then died of cancer and he has been quietly supporting her son with money he made while working in the far north in the camps.
By now the pianist knows that his parents were killed in the camps and that he is marked for life by his duplicity of keeping his connection with them hidden as well as taking the identity of a dead solider.
He invites his fellow traveller to a concert and you assume that the son of the general’s daughter steps out onto the stage just as the pianist disappears.
A book that is great because just as there is a life story here there are also questions for you to take away and mull over.
A review will follow soonish…