Australian pianist David Helfgott is fascinating as both artist and psychological subject; here's his story on both counts as told by his wife, Gillian. Now well known from his movie biography, the critically acclaimed Shine
, the book gives a fuller account of his life and struggles to return to playing the piano and living a halfway normal life.
From School Library Journal
YA. This poignant story of a great musical talent blurred by mental illness is brilliantly portrayed in the movie Shine. With frank detail, humor, and great understanding, Helfgott offers details that bring deeper insight into the life of her husband, Australian pianist David Helfgott. David's father, an impoverished Jewish immigrant and a frustrated musician, pinned all his hopes on his musically gifted oldest son, who showed "nervous" tendencies at an early age. By 14, David was winning Australian piano competitions, but ultimately he had to break with his father in order to study in London. Three years of study at the Royal College of Music culminated in his triumphant performance of the Rachmaninoff Third Piano Concerto. But the strain was too great and David had a complete mental breakdown. Returning to Australia, he was institutionalized much of the next 12 years; when he met Gillian, he was beginning to play again, in a piano bar. The story of their life together, and David's dramatic improvement and return to performing, are the heart of this book. YAs will find this sympathetic portrait fascinating; those who are familiar with the movie will find this closer look at David Helfgott's life equally rewarding.?Molly Connally, Kings Park Library, Fairfax County, VA
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