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Book Review: The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason

We recently read the book The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason. Continue reading this short blog to find out our thoughts on this exciting and adventurous book!


The Book The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason in the blog Book Review: The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason
The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason

The Piano Tuner begins in London in 1886 with a meeting between the main character Edgar Drake and the officer Colonel Killian, the Director of the Operations for the Burma Division of the British Army. As unusual as it may sound an Erard piano was shipped and transported by elephant to the village of Mandalay in Burma where the British Empire has occupation. This was insisted upon by Surgeon - Major Carrol who resides in Mandalay and negotiates between the Burmese Princes and the British War Office in coming to a peaceful resolution of occupation.


This piano, of course, is out of tune and "sustained some damage" en route to Mandalay and so is in need of a piano tuner of great skill: hence the war office has requested the services of Edgar Drake, a specialist in Erard pianos, to travel to Burma and service the piano to the best of his abilities in a war ridden country, thousands of miles from home.


It is clear that this "request" by her majesty's forces can not be refused and thus Carrol begins getting his affairs in order and gathering together the tools he will need for this mysterious job.


Over the course of several weeks, Drake takes the journey to Burma and through to Mandalay. This section of the book is beautifully written with rich descriptions of the scenery; the conversations and people Drake meets along the way; and full of intrigue and mystery as to Surgeon - Major Carrol.


As the novel continues we learn more about the history of the British Empire and the Burmese people. Their customs and traditions are eloquently written in a way which almost has the pictures of people and places jumping from the page. When Drake finally meets Carroll and sees the piano he takes us on a technical journey which any piano tuner or technician will appreciate. With history of the Erard pianos, descriptions and resolutions of the damage which was sustained in transit, and Drakes mindset in slowly fixing each problem in turn. Although there are fairly technical sections throughout the book waxing lyrical about pianos these are written fully accessibly so that even someone who knows near to nothing about the instrument can enjoy the descriptions.

As you might expect, further adventures and complications alter the narrative of Drakes story and soon he is caught up in much more than just fixing a piano. As the story continues and follows towards its end, you appreciate the complexity of a country at war and the nuances of how music can soften the soul of even those at their wits end.


I can highly recommend this stunningly written book by Daniel Mason and really appreciated his ability to maintain mystery and intrigue right to the end of the novel. It was a pleasure to read a book which not only struck a chord of recognition in pianos, but also gently broadened my knowledge and understanding of a complicated time in history (although, it must be remembered that the book is based on historical facts but a fictional telling).

We hope you have enjoyed reading this short blog, Book Review: The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason. Please see the link below to purchase your own copy, or head on down to your local library!


You can purchase the book here:

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