My rating: 4 of 5 stars The inspirational story of Syrian-Palestinian pianist Aeham Ahmad, who lived through and escaped the hardship and desperation of the Syrian war and siege in Yarmouk, near Damascus. Ahmad became known worldwide after videos of him playing piano on the bombed out streets of Yarmouk were posted on YouTube. This is Ahmads narrative of the displacement of Syrian refugees, his journey to Europe and the power of music to give him hope in a desperate situation.
‘I’m a pianist…. My revolution is music… Music was going to be my form of protest…’ p.170
I do not read a huge amount of crime/ thriller novels but was at a Publishers Day and heard the author read the first few pages of The turn off the key. Read it in a couple of days. It was gripping, fast paced, a cracking ghost and crime story with a clever twist at the end.
I’ve been meaning to read this for years.( I Vaguely remember the film, with Hugh Grant, being about in the late 90’s early 2000ish). It was OK. Will amused me and Marcus was cute. The book avoided scmulchz- was quite unsentimental with its characters, which I liked. I was just a bit underwhelmed overall.
I was totally captivated by the audio of this absorbing tale with its cacophonous mix of characters, traditional English village setting and delicious mixture of mythical folklore, fantasy and realism.
Nobody captures senior school days, with all their associated teenage angst better than Davis Nicholls.
I re-lived all those feelings of not fitting in, of difficult parents, of first being seemingly the only one in the school without a boyfriend and then, when the wonder happened and I met someone, all the excitement and agonies of first love. I re-lived the irritation of not being one of the ‘Book Token Kid’s’, of not quite fitting in. I remembered with nostalgia the end of term/ end of school disco. Of revising for and sitting O’Levels and then the long summer with nothing to do while waiting for results. I loved Sweet Sorrow and I love David Nicholls.
Having read Madeline Miller’s Song of Achilles earlier in the year, it was interesting to read events from the Gods viewpoint, although I had to keep Googling them as they entered the narrative to remind myself of their role in Greek legend, which slowed the reading down a tad. It was good to catch up with Odysseus and get to know him from another angle- from the female view of Circe and Penelope, which although played up the traditional great and wily warrior role, also showed him in a less favourable and likeable light. A couple of lines, where Circe is describing the character of Penelope stayed with me:
‘I asked her how she did it once, how she understood the world so clearly. she told me that it was a matter of keeping very still and showing no emotions, leaving room for others to reveal themselves.’ (p.265).