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Summary

Set in 1934 as Chicago slides from Prohibition into the Depression, Perfect Pitch tells the story of Albertine, a young wife and mother who won’t settle for an ordinary life. Albertine uses her musical talent and her beauty to escape hard times a few hours at a time by playing piano at the Top Hat Club, flirting with gangsters, and having an affair with a major league baseball star. With perfect pitch, Albertine is sure of every note she plays, but in her personal life, she sees no clear choices. Her lover is the Cubs’ centerfielder, but Albertine can’t stop loving her husband, a handsome German saxophonist who believes his music will make him famous. Albertine wishes she could be carefree, but she can’t completely neglect her 10 year-old son, who is as restless as she is and who sneaks out at night to explore the city. Albertine considers herself a modern woman, above reproach, but she can’t ignore her mother, the midwife, who is both her sharpest critic and fondest admirer. And even though she mingles with Chicago’s most glamorous people, Albertine can’t avoid being broke and she can’t turn her back on her extended family as they lose their jobs, go on Relief, and get evicted from their homes. A rare beauty, Albertine outshines her three sisters and is the center of attention wherever she goes. The novel shows Albertine playing piano in her husband’s band, witnessing the raw power of a boxing match, and giving birth to a premature child while trapped at home by a snowstorm. And no matter what happens, Albertine remains determined to dress well and stand out from the crowd.
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