Devoted piano teacher, Madame Sousatzka encounters an aspiring young pianist who will blossom into a musical genius under her watchful eye. But the public cannot hear him yet: one day he will be a great pianist - until that day he must only play for Sousatzka... The action takes place largely in the dilapidated London home of Sousatzka where three other colourful characters also live. One is a 'countess' in retirement who spends most of her time sitting and looking at the world, the second is a gay osteopath whose theories aim to benefit mankind, and the third, Jenny, is a woman-of-the-evening, albeit one of especial beauty and delicacy. Sousatzka herself came to Britain as a refugee from Russia. She has developed her own system for teaching the piano, and specialises in child prodigies. This engaging tale has been brought to life by Shirley Maclaine in the film version directed by John Schlesinger, with a screenplay by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala.
Bernice Rubens (1929-2004) was born in Cardiff, Wales in July 1928. She began writing at the age of 35, when her children started nursery school. Her second novel, Madame Sousatzka (1962), was filmed by John Schlesinger, with Shirley MacLaine in the leading role, in 1988. Her fourth novel, The Elected Member, won the 1970 Booker prize. She was shortlisted for the same prize again in 1978 for A Five Year Sentence. Her last novel, The Sergeants' Tale, was published in 2003. She was an honorary vice-president of International PEN and served as a Booker judge in 1986. Bernice Rubens died in 2004 aged 76.