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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (5,393 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Daniel Mason Narrator: Richard Matthews, Simon Vance Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2002 ISBN: 9780736697781
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An extraordinary first novel that tells the story of a British piano tuner sent deep into Burma in the nineteenth 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—poetry, medicine, and now music—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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Excellent. . . . [Mason’s] powerful prose style and his ability to embrace history, politics, nature and medicine . . . [is] astonishing. The New York Times Book Review
  • The Piano Tuner is a haunting, passionate story of empire and individualism. . . . [Mason is] a gifted writer. San Francisco Chronicle
  • “This wondrous work of fiction . . . artfully weaves psychology, politics, medicine and music theory into a polyphonic composition. . . . A virtuoso performance. Newsday
  • [A] very fine first novel. . . . Its author is rich in talent and promise. Philadelphia Inquirer
  • A gripping and resonant novel. . . . It immerses the reader in a distant world with startling immediacy and ardor. . . . Riveting. Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
  • “An ambitious, adventuresome, highly unusual first novel that offers pleasures too rarely encountered in contemporary American literary fiction. . . . [Mason is] a gifted, original and courageous writer. The Washington Post Book World
  • “Luminous. . . . Mason’s writing achieves that kind of reverie in which every vision, tone, flavor and sensation is magnified. Los Angeles Times
  • “Intoxicating, full of sights to see, histories to learn, stories to entertain. USA Today
  • Remarkable. . . . A profound adventure story. The New Yorker
  • Inspired. . . . The Piano Tuner is a brilliant debut. Miami Herald
  • Mason’s writing achieves that kind of reverie in which every vision, tone, flavor and sensation is magnified. LA Times
  • “Daniel Mason’s ambitious, lyrical The Piano Tuner . . . [possesses] genuine moments of ominous beauty. . . . Readers . . . should be intrigued by the mix of historical detail, lush settings, and equally lush language. San Jose Mercury News
  • A smart, entertaining adventure. Christian Science Monitor
  • “An intense, shimmering dream of a story. Grand Rapids Press
  • Mason has improvised a virtuoso tale . . . a complex and subtly imagined adventure. Guardian Unlimited
  • Reminded me of books I read by flashlight, under the covers, when I was young. USA Today
  • Nominated for the Barnes & Noble Discover Award
  • One of the 2002 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mary | 2/19/2014

    " This one started a little slow for me, but I'm so very glad I stuck with it. It has such a payoff at the end (and really, by about page 50 I was being sucked into its spell). It felt like a long study of Story (the shadows of stories, the myths, the fables, the slippery truths), and it was definitely an odyssey story. So many wonderful possibilities open up at the end. I'll be thinking about this book for a long time to come. Marvelous. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Caitlin Kiley | 2/16/2014

    " A little Heart of Darkness-esque. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Celia | 2/15/2014

    " Interesting book. Not terribly exciting, but it had a strong sense of location and good sensory input. The musical information was correct but scant. I enjoyed learning about the British occupied Shan States in the 1800's. It was not very predictable, which I find satisfying. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Wendy | 2/7/2014

    " This is an exquisitely written story about an English piano tuner commissioned by the British War Office in 1886 to travel to Burma to repair an Erard grand piano. Thank you, Karin! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dan Piette | 2/5/2014

    " Heart of Darkness with a Piano, and without the heads chopped off "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Paula | 1/17/2014

    " "Edgar Drake lives a quiet life in late 19th-century London as a tuner of rare pianos. When he's summoned to Burma to repair the instrument of an eccentric major, Anthony Carroll, Edgar bids his wife good-bye and begins the months-long journey east. The first half of the book details his trip, and while Mason's descriptions of the steamships and trains of Europe and India are entertaining, the narrative tends to drag; Edgar is the only real character readers have met, and any conflicts he might encounter are unclear. Things pick up when Edgar meets the unconventional Carroll, who has built a paradise of sorts in the Burmese jungle. Edgar ably tunes the piano, but this turns out to be the least of his duties, as Carroll seeks his services on a mission to make peace between the British and the local Shan people. During his stay at Carroll's camp, Edgar falls for a local beauty, learns to appreciate the magnificence of Burma's landscape and customs and realizes the absurdity of the war between the British and the Burmese. While Mason's writing smoothly evokes Burma's beauty, and the idea that music can foster peace is compelling, his work features so many familiar literary pieces-the nerdy Englishman; the steamy locale; the unjust war; the surprisingly cultured locals-that readers may find themselves wishing they were turning the pages of Orwell's Burmese Days or E.M. Forster's A Passage to India instead." "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lauren.gavin | 1/13/2014

    " loved the setting in colonial Burma. plot reminded me of "heart of Darkness", but otherwise interesting read "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Chris | 12/12/2013

    " Liked this book - good story of faraway place and time. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jennifer Chin | 12/6/2013

    " I expected a lot more from this book than the exoticized adventure story that it is. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sally Dark | 9/29/2013

    " OMG what a fabulous book!! So colourful, descriptive and wonderfully written!! Would defo recommend! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lorrie | 6/8/2013

    " This book tells quite a story of a journey in Burma. The end has a twist I didn't see coming! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Terry | 4/20/2013

    " I read this book years ago and picked it up again. This is one of those books you don't want to end. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Wendi | 2/2/2013

    " This book is by far one of my favorites. It is lush with history, enlivens you with elegant settings, portrays provocative innocence and thrills with a haunting military tale. I've read it several times and it always leaves me gasping for more! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Paul Callister | 1/1/2013

    " Bravo for the Piano Teacher. I loved the setting and the hapless character of the piano teacher, who is sent on a dangerous mission to tune the piano of a mysterious British officer deep in Burma. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Danielle | 12/9/2012

    " Great story set in Indo China, Berma. Definate read before visiting Thailand. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Danielle Krause | 10/19/2012

    " Beautiful and descriptive prose, but the story was slow and the ending predictable. I struggled to find any character development beyond that which was shoved in your face. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Cynthia Machata | 5/18/2012

    " I loved the story and how he really takes you into this world ... the problem is he just didn't know how to end the book "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kristin R | 2/28/2012

    " July 2009 - This is a good fish-out-of-water story about an Englidh piano tuner qho travels to the depths of the jungle to tune a piano in the late 19th century. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Desiree Hollemon | 10/20/2011

    " A really great first novel. This guy wrote this while he was in medical school and it is truly well written and has a great and unusual storyline. His second, another interesting setting and story is just not as compelling but worth trying. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Snickerdoodlemom | 10/17/2011

    " A highly praised book but I didn't care for it - except for the information I learned about Burma. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Liviu | 8/3/2011

    " this book starts quite intriguingly but then it goes off the rails into a clicheic plot and bad world building. At least the main hero gets his just reward at the end; a major disappointment considering how well the book starts, i felt I wasted my time reading this one "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Henary | 7/1/2011

    " This was a book I found on a nightstand of a room I was staying in when I was visiting my grandparents. It was an interesting story that was well-written.

    I wouldn't recommend it to everyone, but it was a good read. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Snickerdoodlemom | 6/27/2011

    " A highly praised book but I didn't care for it - except for the information I learned about Burma. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 V_madridista | 6/27/2011

    " The story was engaging if not overly entertaining but when I got to the end I was left utterly disappointed. I guess I just couldn't understand why he made the choice he did. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sarah | 6/1/2011

    " Ooooh this was a pleasure to read. I had been reading Madame Bovary, and Mason's Burma was just where I wanted to be. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jean | 5/26/2011

    " Set in the late 19 century, a British piano tuner receives a commission from the British War Office to travel to the remote jungles of northeast Burma and repair a rare piano who belongs to a army surgeon. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Donna | 5/15/2011

    " A bit too much description. I skipped whole pages, especially offical military reports, but I cared about the characters and wanted to know what happened to them. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Lori | 4/29/2011

    " I really didn't like the ending of this story. I liked the historical aspect of the book, but it just couldn't get into it much at all. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dan | 4/27/2011

    " Heart of Darkness with a Piano, and without the heads chopped off "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lily | 4/7/2011

    " Taking a piano deep into Victorian India. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Wog | 3/29/2011

    " Lyrical, haunting, evocative. Reminds me of Conrad's Heart of Darkness in many ways. Five years after first reading the book, I still remember phrases, scenes. Truly one of the best books I have ever read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lisa | 3/25/2011

    " Listening to the audio version during my commute. "

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About the Author
Author Daniel MasonDaniel Mason received his bachelor's degree in biology from Harvard in 1998 and spent a year studying malaria on the Thai and Myanmar border, where much of The Piano Tuner was written. He is currently a medical student at the University of California, San Francisco.
About the Narrator

Simon Vance (a.k.a. Robert Whitfield) is an award-winning actor and an AudioFile Golden Voice with over forty Earphones Awards. He has won thirteen prestigious Audie Awards and was Booklist’s very first Voice of Choice in 2008. He has narrated more than eight hundred audiobooks over almost thirty years, beginning when he was a radio newsreader for the BBC in London.