A professional pianist searches for her sister, who was taken when their parents died, aided on by her childhood care records and a single song that continues to haunt her.
Heather Harris is a piano teacher and professional musician, whose quiet life revolves around music, whose memories centre on a single song that haunts her. A song she longs to perform again. A song she wrote as a child, to drown out the violence in their home. A song she played with her little sister, Harriet.
But Harriet is gone … she disappeared when their parents died, and Heather never saw her again.
When Heather is offered an opportunity to play piano on a cruise ship, she leaps at the chance. She’ll read her recently released childhood care records by day – searching for clues to her sister’s disappearance – and play piano by night … coming to terms with the truth about a past she’s done everything to forget.
An exquisitely moving novel about surviving devastating trauma, about the unbreakable bond between sisters, Nothing Else is also a story of courage and love, and the power of music to transcend – and change – everything.
Hi and welcome to the annual event of me trying to figure out how to eloquently voice all the thoughts, feelings and emotions Louise Beech’s newest novel has evoked in me, in which I will fail spectacularly, as usual!
I mean, welcome to my review of Nothing Else!
Momma Orenda kindly sent me an eARC and I thanked her profusely and said well that’s my weekend sorted! It was Thursday and I started it that same night. Clearly I can’t have a Louise Beech novel on my Kobo and not read it. Minutes after, I was fully absorbed, invested right away in the lives of these two sisters, Heather and Harriet.
Heather is a forty-something pianist / piano teacher, divorced, no children, and on the verge of a new chapter in her life. Confronted with a new pupil who reminds her terribly of her sister, Heather realises she can’t keep running from her past. Adopted as a child following a car accident that killed her parents, Heather spent the last thirty-seven years trying not to think about her childhood, her dad’s violence, her mum’s bruises and her little sister Harriet whom she adored, shared a piano stool with, and had vanish from her life.
What happened to Harriet? It’s the question that has ruled Heather’s life despite her running away from it, but now she has to know, painful though it may be. After all these years, the need to know finally trumps her fears and she decides to request her care documents. Meanwhile, she lands a pianist job on a cruise, convinced that a change of scenery will do her good.
I absolutely loved the cruise setting and Heather coming into her own, getting praise and finding her feet, while also reading her care documents and her starting to remember more and more from her childhood. Although I would classify Nothing Else as contemporary fiction, it does have a bit of a slow-burning thriller vibe, in the mystery of what happened to Harriet.
Nothing Else is beautifully written, in that style that is so typical of this author, and which never fails to draw its reader in. It is positively brimming with love, love for a sister, love for a mother, love for music. It shines with strength and courage and forgiveness. It makes you turn up the music, and if you have a sister, I’m pretty sure it will make you want to hug her.
Starting a new Louise Beech novel always begs the question: will she make me cry this time? And oh yes, she did! With me blinking furiously through the tears and dabbing at my eyes with a tissue so as not to miss a word cos I could not stop reading. In places it did perhaps feel a bit more saccharine than the previous novels by this author, but the truth is I didn’t care.
Nothing Else is another fantastic addition to the Louise Beech collection and one I would definitely recommend.
Nothing Else is out in digital formats on 23 April, in audio on 1 May and in paperback on 23 June. Pre-order your eBook and/or paperback directly from Orenda Books here.
Hugest thanks to Orenda Books for the eARC. All opinions are my own.