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In booming post-war Brooklyn, the Nowak Piano Company is an American success story, whose reputation rivals that of Mason & Hamlin or even Steinway. President Peter Nowak and his wife Francine are the children of Polish immigrants, proud to have a significant name "in a city full of significant names.” Even if Peter is a little prickly, and Francine a bit private, the Nowaks are well-regarded in their Brooklyn enclave. There is just one problem: the Nowaks' only son, David.A handsome boy and shy like his mother, David struggles with neuroses that cripple his ability to connect with other children, not to mention the tight-knit community around him. If not for his only friend Marianne--a pretty, enigmatic girl with religious leanings recently moved to the neighborhood--David’s life would likely be intolerable. With Marianne, David captures brief moments of freedom and happiness, even as Marianne’s family issues concerns about David’s eccentricities.” But the sudden death of Peter Nowak while David is still in high school, followed by Francine’s ensuing alcoholism and depression, shatter any promise for normalcy in his life. Not yet 18, David inherits control of the piano company, but lacks the support or actual desire to manage its day-to-day activity. After Marianne is forced to break things off by her bullying father, David sells the company and leaves to travel around the world. In Taiwan, his life changes when he meets the daughter of a local madame--sharp-tongued Jia-Hui, whom he renames Daisy. Returning to the US, David’s mother shuns his Asian bride, who struggles to communicate in (and relate to) her new culture.Without any reason to stay in the East Coast, the couple, who now have a newborn son, buy an isolated country house in the foothills of Northern California’s Polk Valley with the hope of creating a peaceful, if unusual, existence. But David’s mood swings and psychosis spur brief disappearances and half-hearted suicide attempts, terrifying Daisy and upending their quiet life. Desperate, David seeks out Marianne, whose dedication to God led her to seek life as a nun. The resulting affair is spontaneous and brief, but produces a child nonetheless--a girl named Gillian--forcing Marianne to leave the Order, and confront the impossible challenges of single motherhood in the 1950s. Lacking many options, Marianne asks for help from the only people she can think of: the Nowaks. Ultimately, David and Daisy take the baby girl as their own, and Marianne agrees to disappear, with the profound repercussions of this decision driving the narrative to its shocking conclusion.Gillian and Willian are raised as siblings in the modest country house, without exposure to visitors, friends, or family: home-schooled with a curriculum based on David’s limited library of ancient and Biblical texts and sustained by Daisy’s Taiwanese cooking. The children spend t
Number of Pages: 290
Genre: Fiction + Literature Genres
Author: Esme Weijun Wang
Street Date: April 12, 2016
Item Number (DPCI): 248-15-7043
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