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Publisher's Summary

An extraordinary first novel that tells the story of a British piano tuner sent deep into Burma in the 19th century.

In October 1886, Edgar Drake receives a strange request from the British War Office: he must leave his wife and his quiet life in London to travel to the jungles of Burma, where a rare Erard grand piano is in need of repair. The piano belongs to an army surgeon-major whose unorthodox peacemaking methods have brought a tentative quiet to the southern Shan States but have elicited questions from his superiors.

On his journey through Europe, the Red Sea, India, and into Burma, Edgar meets soldiers, mystics, bandits, and tale-spinners, as well as an enchanting woman as elusive as the surgeon-major. And at the doctor's fort on a remote Burmese river, Edgar encounters a world more mysterious and dangerous than he ever could have imagined.

Sensuous, lyrical, rich with passion and adventure, this is a hypnotic tale of myth, romance, and self-discovery: an unforgettable novel.

©2002 Daniel Philippe Mason (P)2002 Random House Inc., Random House Audio, a Division of Random House Inc.

Critic Reviews

"A seductive and lyrical novel that probes the brutalities and compromises of colonization, even as it celebrates the elusive powers of music and the imagination." (The New York Times)
"A profound adventure story with an unexpected climax." (The New Yorker)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

One of the very best

Of course, any review is going to be subjective. Some people love Whodunnits. Some people love History. Some people love Elizabethen Drama. Etc. I love a Good Story which is Well Told, and this one is among the very best titles I've ever "read". The story is complex yet with few enough main characters as not to have me hopelessly confused. The subtlety and nuance are delicate and well placed. The style is indeed reminiscent of Joseph Conrad but without being derivative. The characters are all most engaging so that one feels for them both when things go well and when they go bad. The writing style is compelling. The author has done his homework with even the smallest details, yet these details are all in the service of the overall tale. And the reader is past excellent. The lover of a well-turned word and phrase, the lover of an engaging tale will find this a most rewarding title.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Sensuos, thought provoking, grabbinng

The combination works nearly perfectly - a good reader, a good story. The description of the burmese jungle are really beautiful - but not over lengthy to become boring. The psychological insight into the main character is fascinating. I listen to a lot of books on tape and this is one of my favorites (Along with Poisonwood Bible). I definately reccomend this for fiction lovers.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Superb mixture of story telling and mystery.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I already have recommended it to several.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The Piano Tuner - of course!

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I found it to be a "I can't wait to listen to what happens next" sort of book. The imagery and story are superb.

Any additional comments?

The pronunciation of Burmese is worth the listen.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Get the Unabridged version

Oooops. I inadvertently got the abridged version, which, no doubt suffers from the abridgment.
This book is loaded with tropical atmosphere, lovely and creepy. The ending will haunt me forever.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Quite good

A heart-of-darkness-type story that was great for passing the time on a long road trip. Interesting, thoughtful, and beautifully written. Special kudos to the narrator, who weathered a bewildering number of voices and accents with commendable ease. Overall, though, I felt the underlying story was weak. The characters' motives were not sufficiently explored, and although there is a gripping plot twist toward the end, the end itself was unsatisfying. This very well could be the abridgement, though, and overall I would recommend this.