My Own Voice (volume I, “As told by Anita”):
Ten years ago, when she was seventeen, Anita started an affair with Lenny, in spite of knowing that he was a married man. Now married to him and carrying his child, she finds herself condemned to compete with Natasha’s shadow, the memory of her brilliance back in her prime, before she succumbed to early-onset Alzheimer’s. Despite Anita’s lack of education, her rough slang, and what happened to her in the past, Lenny tries to transform her. He wants her to become Natasha.
Faced with his compelling wish, and the way he writes her as a character in his book, how can Anita find a voice of her own? And when his estranged son, Ben, comes back and lives in the same small apartment, can she keep the balance between the two men, whose desire for her is marred by guilt and blame?
The White Piano (volume II, “As told by Ben”):
Coming back to his childhood home after years of absence, Ben is unprepared for the secret, which is now revealed to him: his mother, Natasha, who used to be a brilliant pianist, is losing herself to early-onset Alzheimer’s, which turns the way her mind works into a riddle. His father has remarried, and his new wife, Anita, looks remarkably similar to Natasha—only much younger. In this state of being isolated, being apart from love, how will Ben react when it is so tempting to resort to blame and guilt? “In our family, forgiveness is something you pray for, something you yearn to receive—but so seldom do you give it to others.”
Behind his father's back, Ben and Anita find themselves increasingly drawn to each other. They take turns using an old tape recorder to express their most intimate thoughts, not realizing at first that their voices are being captured by him. These tapes, with his eloquent speech and her slang, reveal the story from two opposite viewpoints.
What emerges in this family is a struggle, a desperate, daring struggle to find a path out of conflicts, out of isolation, from guilt to forgiveness.