Thumbs up for The English Understand Wool by Helen Dewitt. Short story.
This was a weird one, but I enjoyed it a lot. How not to give anything away? Let us say it is a story of a young woman’s very satisfying use of her agency.
One would necessarily be in London for at least six weeks. Claridge’s had installed, at her request, a Yamaha Clavinova with two sets of headphones in the place previously occupied by the television and the furniture which supported it. It would be mauvais ton to inflict one’s music on persons who have expressed no desire to hear it (the Royal Suite and Prince Alexander suite, each with its grand piano, surround the instrument with “buffer” rooms, but Maman had been unable to satisfy herself of vertical protection sufficient to shield a sensitive ear). It was a regrettable but necessary sacrifice to accommodate to the inevitable shortcomings of the digital instrument. One cannot, of course, dispense with the piano for more than a day or two; one gets out of the habit of practice with fatal ease. It is one thing to resign oneself in the Outer Hebrides, where arrangements are understandably primitive, but in the heart of London it would be absurd.
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