Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 14 to 16
- Grade: 9 to 11
Claudette on the Keys is about a female pianist who follows fortune but instead finds fascism on the rise in this tale of intrigue in pre-war times. Inspired by true events, it’s the story of Ida, whose stage name is Claudette, and her husband Harry, a Toronto-based duo-piano team, who are struggling to find employment in 1936 after being laid off from their radio show. Following a solo performance at Shea’s Theatre, where Ida performs a stellar rendition of George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” she is invited by a British talent agent to work overseas where she becomes embroiled in a scheme to get Jewish musicians out of Germany, passport problems and imprisonment. With a mixture of real and imagined characters, Culley provides a glimpse into the show business world of pre-war Europe through the eyes of a spunky heroine. A must-read for fans of Letters Across the Sea by Genevieve Graham and The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff.
About the author
Joanne Culley is an award—winning writer and documentary producer whose previous book Love in the Air: Second World War Letters was published in 2015. Her work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Peterborough Examiner, Legion Magazine, Our Canada, as well as on CBC and Bravo Network. She has an MA in English from the University of Toronto and a Certificate in Creative Writing from Humber College. She grew up in Toronto and now lives in Peterborough, Ontario.
“Joanne Culley weaves a fascinating tale of a brave young Canadian pianist who leaves everything she knows and crosses the Atlantic to find her way in the show business world of pre-war Europe. Claudette is a wonderfully plucky heroine who is willing to risk it all to provide for her young family. Culley brings the musical world of Toronto, London and Berlin to life with keenly observed detail and an intriguing mixture of real-life and fictional characters.”?Dan Needles, author and playwright of the Wingfield series