sydney's Reviews > The Piano Tuner

The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason
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Jan 25, 11

Read in January, 2011

Edgar Drake is one of the best piano tuners in Victorian London. One day, he's mysteriously summoned by officers of the British army to go on a mission to Burma to repair the piano of Doctor Anthony Carroll. Carroll is an important army guy (colonel maybe?) in command of a British army post in the Shan states of Burma. Despite a rebellion against the British, Carroll has managed to maintain peace in the town of Mae Lwin through some odd combination of music and diplomacy and doctoring. The army doesn't agree with his methods, but they can't argue that he's bad at his job, so they put up with his strange demands, like when he said, "Bring a giant grand piano here to me in the middle of this jungle, and don't scratch it. Oh, and it has to be from London." Then, when he said, "Hey, my giant grand piano is out of tune. Bring me one of the best piano tuners in Victorian London," they did that, too, although not without a lot of snarky comments and correspondence. Anyway, that's how Drake gets to Burma. Once he's there, he meets people, fixes a piano, thinks about rivers a lot, and falls in love with the place. Then things take a turn, but I'll leave the summary there.

For the first half of this book or so, I wasn't sure I liked it. The story was interesting, but some of the prose seemed overworked and fussy, and the dialogue didn't read as authentic to me. Once Drake got to Burma, though, the story picked up, and I enjoyed it more. It wasn't one of those books that I couldn't wait to pick up every day, but, especially toward the end, I did get wrapped up in it.

Recommended for world travelers, music lovers, and Victorian/Burmese (Myanmarian?) history buffs.
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