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The Piano by Jane Campion Review

Title: The Piano

Author: Jane Campion

First published January 1, 1993

215 pages, Paperback

ISBN: 9780786880966 (ISBN10: 0786880961)

Rating: 3.93


The Piano, a captivating novel by Jane Campion, delves into the enigmatic world of Ada and her unconventional life. Readers will be fascinated by the secrets surrounding Ada’s muteness, the truth behind her daughter’s birth, the peculiarities of her marriage, and the complex histories of Baines and Stewart.

With a unique and powerful narrative, this novel stands on its own, offering a rich exploration of the characters and themes that made the award-winning film a beloved classic.

About the Author

Jane Campion, the daughter of Edith, an actress, and Richard Campion, a theater and opera director, was born in Wellington, New Zealand. She graduated from Victoria University with a degree in Anthropology in 1975 and from the Sydney College of the Arts with a major in painting in 1979.

In the early eighties, she began making films at the Australian Film Television and Radio School. Her short film, Peel (1982), won the Short Film Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1986, followed by other awards for the shorts Passionless Moments (1983) and Girls Own Story (1984).

Her feature debut, Sweetie (1989), garnered international awards. Campion received further recognition for An Angel at my Table (1990), an autobiographical and psychological portrayal of poet Janet Frame.

Her film, The Piano, won another Palme d’Or at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival, the best director award from the Australian Film Institute, and an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay in 1994. She was nominated for Best Director at the 66th Academy Awards, becoming the second woman to receive the nomination.

Campion’s later work has divided public opinion. The Portrait of a Lady (1996), based on the Henry James novel, starred Nicole Kidman, John Malkovich, Barbara Hershey, and Martin Donovan.

Campion worked again with Harvey Keitel and Kate Winslet in Holy Smoke! (1999), and directed Meg Ryan in the erotic thriller, In the Cut (2003), which was based on Susanna Moore’s bestseller. She was also an executive producer of the 2006 documentary Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story.

Campion has a daughter named Alice (b. 1993).

Editoral Review

The Piano by Jane Campion is a literary masterpiece that tells a haunting story of love, loss, and obsession. Campion, a New Zealand filmmaker, wrote The Piano as a screenplay before adapting it into a novel, which was published in 1993.

The book won the prestigious Booker Prize, as well as the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book, and was later adapted into an Academy Award-winning film. The Piano is set in the 19th century and explores the complexities of human relationships in a patriarchal, colonial society.

The story is centered on Ada McGrath, a mute pianist who travels from Scotland to New Zealand with her young daughter and prized possession, a piano. Ada enters into an arranged marriage with Alisdair Stewart, a wealthy landowner, and endures a difficult and abusive relationship with him.

Ada’s only solace is her piano and her relationship with Baines, a local laborer who shares her love for music. Campion’s novel is a masterful exploration of the female psyche, capturing the raw emotion and turmoil that Ada experiences as a result of her marriage and her repressed desire for Baines.

The novel also delves into the themes of colonization, racism, and the clash of cultures. Despite the heavy subject matter, Campion’s writing style is lyrical and poetic, evoking the rugged beauty of the New Zealand landscape and the haunting melodies of Ada’s piano.

One of the strengths of The Piano is Campion’s vivid and complex characterization. Ada is a complex, multifaceted character who is simultaneously strong and vulnerable.

She is a fierce defender of her own autonomy but is also consumed by inner demons that threaten to engulf her. Baines, too, is a nuanced and conflicted character, and the chemistry between him and Ada is palpable.

Another strength of the book is its exploration of the power dynamics that exist within patriarchal societies. Ada is entrapped in a life she did not choose and is forced to navigate a world dominated by men.

She rebels against this oppressive system by refusing to speak and by using her music to assert her agency. The Piano is not without its flaws, however.

Some readers may find the plot slow-moving at times, and the symbolism and metaphor in the novel can be heavy-handed. Additionally, some of the characters, such as Alisdair, are not fully fleshed out, which can detract from the overall impact of the story.

Overall, The Piano is a stunning work of literature that is not to be missed. It tackles complex themes with a deft hand and features unforgettable characters that will stay with readers long after they finish the book.

It is a must-read for fans of historical fiction, feminist literature, and anyone looking for a powerful and moving story. Rating: 9/10.

The Piano is a must-read for anyone who loves literary fiction, historical fiction, or feminist literature. While some readers may find the plot slow-moving and the symbolism heavy-handed, Campion’s masterful characterization and lyrical prose make this book an unforgettable read.

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