Posted by: istop4books | January 27, 2011


I have no idea who recommended this book to me or why, but the bottom line is that it caught my attention. I have always loved pianos, enjoy piano music and have been close enough to Burma to feel a certain affiliation to some of the themes in the book.

The basic premise is that there is a British army doctor living in a remote village in Burma in late 1800’s.  He’s eccentric but vital to the peacekeeping efforts.  He requests an Erard piano which is delivered (hand-carried) through the jungle, but then he needs a piano tuner.  To this effect, Edgar Drake, of London is pretty much mandated to leave his wife and to travel to Burma to tune this piano and therefore serve the Crown by helping the army doctor in his peacekeeping mission.

The first part of the book is a gorgeous recount of Drake’s trip, this thoughts and perceptions of the people he meets while traveling.  Once he arrives in Burma, the story shifts.  The details and descriptions of Burma are breathtaking, the characterizations, however, fall short.  As Drake ponders his stay in this remote village and questions his own motives, I think the reader also wonders what this is all about.

There are lengthy, overly long IMHO, descriptions of the piano, its history, and piano tuning as well as the history of Burma cleverly intertwined, but pages and pages too long for the casual reader.

Somehow, and without spoilers, the book fell short as I never really understood the outcome, or more so, the motives of the outcome, and so I leave the book as though leaving a movie 10 minutes before the end and wondering why this or that happened.  Not a fulfilling feeling.


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