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The Piano Tuner Paperback – August 19, 2003
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It is only natural that a guest be treated with hospitality, the quiet man who has come to mend the singing elephant is shy, and walks with the posture of one who is unsure of the world, we too would keep him company to make him feel welcome, but we do not speak English.... They say he is one of the kind of men who has dreams, but tells no one.Drake's complexity is thin; perhaps the beauty of Burma takes over any real need for introspection. Despite these quibbles, The Piano Tuner is a memorable achievement. --Michael Ferch --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
The story takes place in the 1800s. Britain, as a colonialist country, has laid claim to portions of India and Burma and is fighting multiple (Burmese) regional princes who are not about to willingly give up their country or their way of life.
As Edgar travels by train and boat, he's fascinated by his novel surroundings. Rather than passing judgment on the different food and customs and beliefs he encounters, Edgar is smitten. Finally, he meets the mysterious Surgeon-Major Anthony J. Carroll, who is so important to the English that they would accede to the unusual request for both the Erard and a piano tuner who must put it right because of the piano's own perilous trip, Burma's humidity, plus having been through a full on military attack by an enemy!
Enter a beautiful woman. She is intelligent, attentive to Edgar, escorts him about the mountainous environs where Carroll is in charge, introduces him to the local flora and lore. What the mysterious Khin Myo's relationship is to Carroll is speculative but her importance is obvious and she is omnipresent.Read more ›
Mason has done his research--the descriptions of a lost, exotic land and its people are poetically evocative and cry out for visual realization (David Lean, where are you when we need you?). He also demonstrates a considerable knowledge of the workings of the British Army, colonial Burmese history and culture, and piano technology. All of this background, as fascinating as it is, frankly overwhelms the slow-paced, slender plot, which takes more than one hundred pages to bring Drake and the mysterious Dr. Carroll together. Along the way the hero meets the obligatory exotic heroine, in this case a beautiful and educated servant of Carroll's named Khin Myo, but the affair remains tastefully chaste. If one hangs with "The Piano Tuner" there is a surprise twist and an unexpected, tragic denouement that grip the reader at the eleventh hour; but the time and number of words it takes to get there suggests Mason, as beautiful and atmospheric as his writing can be, needs to work more on his sense of pacing and proportion.
This is a story evocative of Conrads "Heart of Darkness" and the spin off movie "Apocalypse Now". However, in Conrad the journey up the Congo river represents a descent into depravity as the shackles of civilization are cast off, and barbarism takes over.
Mason replays the story in a very different way. Instead of descending into darkness, Drake ascends into enlightenment. He blossoms in the heat of the tropics, becoming things he did not dare in polite London society. From tuner he becomes a pianist. From tradesman he becomes a diplomat. From a dry emotionless husk of a man he becomes a passionate lover.
But circumstances conspire against our hero and in the end it is the civilized world that shatters the primeval dream of the jungle.
Beautifully written and a well told story. We can never be sure of the final resolution until we reach the end of the book. Will love, music and passion triumph over politics, empire and the gun? Can the music of a piano in the jungle bring greater peace than an army? What a nice notion.
With the piano tuner, Edgar Drake, we see the coast of Africa one hot morning off the starboard side of his ship; we sail through the Red Sea; we disembark in Bombay, then make the overland journey across India; and finally there is Burma from Rangoon to Mandalay to the final destination in the wilds of the Shan states, Mae Lwin.
Mae Lwin, with its children playing in the river, its tattooed men, its women with their strangely beautiful, lined "thanaka" make-up. Mae Lwin, built on the side of a mountain, with stairs slanting everywhere connecting its buildings. Mae Lwin, surrounded by a jungle filled with butterflies, flowers, snakes, mosquitoes, heat, sheeting rain, and various birds such as parrots, mynah birds and kingfishers. It is so exotic that we, like our besotted piano tuner, become enraptured by it.
But beyond this the novel is a pretty good intrigue also. The British, you see, had to be concerned with the French incursion into Indo-China, and also the never-ending Russian menace. The fierce Han warriors in the region had to be subdued either through alliance or war.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A 19th century meek Londoner piano tuner is drawn into a personal odyssey. He is transformed, yet stuck in his dreams.Published 8 days ago by Michael Pinchera
I enjoyed the book and I thought it was well written. It was a bit plodding at times but the subject matter was new and interesting. The ending though was a mashup. Read morePublished 13 days ago by J. Conant
Disappointing: mainly because the ending was so unsatisfying. While a fairly intriguing story (if you have patience) for about 95% of book, and some interesting ideas, literally... Read morePublished 23 days ago by Starbright
Slow to bloom but strong and solid through the ruminative serenity of the prose but perhaps not the meandering plot, Daniel Mason's debut is a wonderfully placid yet not perfectly... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Luke
Excellent story of the British in Burma, as part of their empire in India.Published 4 months ago by RD Brown
The book was full of intrigue, twists an turns and British/Burma history. There were lots of Burmese terminology to keep straight.Published 5 months ago by demeris m york
Very slow paced and way more info than I cared to know about Burma. Paragraph structure is confusing in terms of speakers. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Brenda K. Rolfs