The Piano Tuner

by Daniel Mason | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 1400030382 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingSqueakyChuwing of Rockville, Maryland USA on 12/13/2004
Buy from one of these Booksellers: | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon IT |
19 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingSqueakyChuwing from Rockville, Maryland USA on Monday, December 13, 2004
I purchased this trade paperback (in perfect condition) off of the book donation shelf at the Twinbrook Library, in Rockville, Maryland.

Although I already read this book, I loved it so much that I got it specifically to share with others as a tribute to the delightful writing of debut author Daniel Mason. Believe it or not, this book had been recommended to me by my gynecologist! (We like to recommend books to each other!)

From the back of the book: "In 1886, a shy, middle-aged piano tuner named Edgar Drake receives an unusual commission from the British War Office: to travel to the remote jungles of northeast Burma and there repair a rare piano belonging to an eccentric army surgeon who has proven mysteriously indespensible to the imperial design. From this irresisitable beginning, The Piano Tuner launches readers into a world of seductive, vibrantly rendered characters, and enmeshes them in an unbreakable spell of storytelling."

What develops is a mystical story. It is one that is steeped in history but has characters so real that, at times, it is hard to distinguish between fact and fiction. That a magnificent piano should be in the heart of the Shan people is almost as incongruous as the presence of British soldiers in their land. The pace of the story is very slow. While that seems difficult to handle at first, one must realize that the distant land of the Shan people of Burma is a far different ambience from that of bustling city life in 19th century England. This is a story most unlike any other I have read and is quite a remarkable tale woven from much research by Daniel Mason.

Begin International Bookray: 12/13/04
SqueakyChu (Maryland) done
stellertony (Alaska) done
ghaweyn (Colorado) done
pashmack (Florida) done
SillySilhouette (Ohio) done
brewster13 (Manitoba) done
bookhogger (Nova Scotia) done
vhackett (New Brunswick) done
loveamystery (Canada) done
PCSAF (Portugal) done -- Stop # 10 -- 1 year of travel
Frangipani04 (Portugal) done
musicalpenguin (UK) done
nice-cup-of-tea (Switzerland) done
KarinAlyssa (Canada) done
Neuilly (Maine) done -- 2 years of travel
ldpaulson (California) done
bartonz (Washington) done
LizzieM (Australia) done
End International Bookray: 03/29/08

This bookray was ended because no further update on this book's status was available for 6 months after the book left Australia. This book traveled for over two years and reached 6 countries. All participants who had not yet received the book were notified.

Journal Entry 2 by stellertony from Anchorage, Alaska USA on Sunday, December 19, 2004
Received in the mail today. Thanks!

Journal Entry 3 by stellertony from Anchorage, Alaska USA on Thursday, January 6, 2005
I'm still here, and still working on it... I promise it will be IN THE MAIL before Jan. 19, which is exactly one month after I received it.

Journal Entry 4 by stellertony at on Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Released 16 yrs ago (1/13/2005 UTC) at



I'm done, finally...

The ending was a blur of confusion, and rather disturbing... Overall, it's an excellent book.

Journal Entry 5 by wingAnonymousFinderwing on Tuesday, February 1, 2005
I received this in the mail yesterday. I will start reading it soon, for it is next on the pile.


Journal Entry 6 by ghaweyn from Colorado Springs, Colorado USA on Sunday, February 20, 2005
This was a really good book. At first I just wanted to meet the guy in the middle of the jungle. It took half the book to get to the point. But the characters, and the prose, and the views of the jungle made it all worth while. The twist of the plot followed the twists of the jungle river. I'll pass this on as soon as I have the next person's addy.

Journal Entry 7 by pashmack from Lake Worth, Florida USA on Monday, February 28, 2005
Arrived in today's mail. I will get started on it within the next couple days. Thanks!

Journal Entry 8 by pashmack from Lake Worth, Florida USA on Thursday, March 17, 2005
While I liked this book a lot, there were times when my feelings about it were rather ambivalent. I suppose that is a reflection of my own interests. For example, after awhile, some of the historical, war related information grew a bit dull for me, but I longed to read more about other things-Carroll's botanical studies, his relationship with Khin Myo, the man with one story, etc. There is some wonderful, lyrical writing here- the descriptions of the beautiful surroundings, the sights and sounds, the people- so colorful, poetic, mystical. One can certainly understand how poignant and life-changing the experience was for Edgar.
Thank you, SqueakyChu for sharing this lovely book. It will be in the mail tomorrow to SillySilhouette.

Journal Entry 9 by SillySilhouette from Akron, Ohio USA on Monday, March 21, 2005
Received today. I will start reading it as soon as I am done with my current book.


Journal Entry 10 by SillySilhouette from Akron, Ohio USA on Monday, March 28, 2005
This book started out as a slow and tedious read for me. From the beginning, I felt overwhelmed with the descriptions of history and geography (my two biggest (?) weaknesses). I also struggled a bit with the author's way of writing. Sometimes his character's dialogues were run together and not separated by quotation marks. –My guess is that these conversations only occurred in Edgar’s mind.

However, I am glad that I didn’t give up on this book. I enjoyed Edgar’s travels from London to Burma. I found some of the people that he met along the way to be quite interesting. Also, I liked reading about his experiences and adventures that he had while staying at Mae Lwin. Finally, the twist in the plot at the end of this story took me by surprise.

Thanks for sharing!

Mailed to brewster13 on 4/01/05.

Journal Entry 11 by brewster13 from Calgary, Alberta Canada on Tuesday, April 12, 2005
I am sooooo excited ... I've been wanting to read this book for quite some time, and now it's here! YAY!
I am currently reading an earlier-arriving bookring, but I'll get to this one just as quick as I can. Thanks so much for sharing! I'll edit this post when I begin reading...


Journal Entry 12 by brewster13 from Calgary, Alberta Canada on Monday, May 16, 2005
I enjoyed this story ... but I can't put my finger on it's charm. Just a nicely written story that pulls you along, and then gives you a bit of a twist so that you rethink the chain of events and your opinions on each character. I think that is what I liked about it - because I found that I liked it more when I was done reading it, than while I was reading it.

Thanks so much for sharing - I've been wanting to read for so long, and I appreciate very much the chance to do so!! I will send on this week to next in line!


Journal Entry 13 by brewster13 from Calgary, Alberta Canada on Wednesday, May 18, 2005
Mailed today ... enjoy!


Journal Entry 14 by bookhogger from Ottawa, Ontario Canada on Tuesday, May 24, 2005
This book was a great surprise - forgot all about it.
I'll move it to the top of the TBR pile and pass it on soon

(thanks for the postcard! Haven't been to Manitoba since i was 9, but i loved it then)

Journal Entry 15 by bookhogger from Ottawa, Ontario Canada on Tuesday, May 31, 2005
I liked reading this book - loved the way Edgar described the world, loved what he noticed. I liked how the dialogue was written all together - made me a more alert reader. I also enjoyed the focus on music and sounds, rather than being purely visual. Made me miss my piano.

I would have rated the book a near ten, if not for the violence and also the ending. The smattering of violence in the book seemed so out of place in my mind, intermixed with thoughtful, beautiful prose. I don't understand what it added to the book, though I rarely understand violence. I found Edgar's discoveries of the region and people enough to keep me entertained. The ending was a disappointment- it seemed to diminish the themes of art, music, poetry, and beauty that were threaded throughout the book. Did Mason simply tire of writing and wanted to finish it quickly (as he got into med school)?

I'll try to get this out soon to the next person on the list. Thanks for sharing this book!

Journal Entry 16 by vhackett from Fredericton, New Brunswick Canada on Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Received from bookhogger - moving to top of TBR pile. Thanks!

Journal Entry 17 by vhackett from Fredericton, New Brunswick Canada on Thursday, July 28, 2005
I found it difficult to get into this book at first but once Edgar left London for Burma, things started moving along for me. This book reminded me a lot of Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. A LOT. I didn't realize it til a good portion of it was behind me. Perhaps I'll read it again someday to see if there are earlier parallels... I'll be contacting loveamystery for snail mail info and mailing out ASAP. Thanks!

Journal Entry 18 by loveamystery from Vancouver, British Columbia Canada on Friday, August 12, 2005
This book arrived two days ago and I am looking forward to reading it. Thanks for sending it all the way from New Brunswick.

Journal Entry 19 by loveamystery from Vancouver, British Columbia Canada on Sunday, August 21, 2005
This is a very beautifully written book. I found it a bit slow at times, especially the historical detail, but the descriptions of the places and people and Edgar's thoughts, I found very fascinating. At each turn in the story I kept waiting for tragedy and just when I thought I had escaped it, wham! at the end. When I had finished it, I began to go over everything trying to figure it out in my own mind. This story will stay with me for a long time.
Am now waiting for an address to mail the book on to the next person on the list.

Journal Entry 20 by loveamystery at on Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Released 16 yrs ago (8/23/2005 UTC) at



Mailed to PCSAF today by surface mail.

Journal Entry 21 by PCSAF from Gondomar, Porto Portugal on Monday, October 17, 2005
Got it!! Thanks for sending it :-))

Journal Entry 22 by PCSAF from Gondomar, Porto Portugal on Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Finally I managed to send the book. Three times I went to the post office at lunchtime, but with no success. Too many people :-((

I read it and enjoyed it very much. Especially the description of the journey and of the places where he was. I am curious to read more from this writer :-))

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Journal Entry 23 by Frangipani04 on Monday, December 26, 2005
The book arrived safely on Friday, but only today was I able to register it. It was a fast (and short) trip. I will start reading it today.

Thank you PCSAF for sending it and SqueakyChu for sharing it!

Journal Entry 24 by Frangipani04 on Monday, January 9, 2006
I found it an excellent book. Though some parts are, in my opinion, unnecessarily long, overall the book is extremely well written and the plot is very interesting. It is rare to find such a well-writen novel, specially from a young writer, who wrote the book as a free time occupation (I found that this author is preparing a new book and will certainly read it!). This book was an excellent company over the last few weeks. I will certainly remember it for a long time!

Some quotes that I liked a lot and wish to remember:

"White like a clean piece of paper, like uncarved ivory, all is white when the story begins."

"A womam walked alone under a parasol, heading somewhere unseen."

17/01 - finally on its way to Scotland!

Journal Entry 25 by musicalpenguin on Thursday, January 19, 2006
Arrived this morning. After feeling rather stupid, I finally asked Frangipani how to make a journal entry (yes it is my first bookring). Feeling slightly less stupid now, as she assures me she did the same thing once. a pianist I am looking forward to reading this. And for the record, the cellotape was not me!!! :-)

Journal Entry 26 by musicalpenguin on Saturday, February 4, 2006
Mmmm. Not sure about this one. Daniel Mason had obviously spent a lot of time researching Burmese and British Imperial history, but I felt he had included too much in the novel. I love geography and history, but there was too much of it.

The main story was nicely written, and the relationships between different characters were tangible.

The ending! Goodness me! I won't give it away for those who haven't read the book yet, but there were just too many twists for my liking. I would have enjoyed it perfectly well if the last few pages didn't exist.

Ah well. We live and learn.

On its way to nice-cup-of-tea.

Journal Entry 27 by nice-cup-of-tea from Zürich, Zürich Switzerland on Thursday, February 16, 2006
Just received in the post today! Thanks to SqueakyChu & musicalpenguin (great name by the way!), I'll read and review asap

Journal Entry 28 by nice-cup-of-tea from Zürich, Zürich Switzerland on Saturday, February 18, 2006
What a wonderful book! Beautifully written with haunting images. I loved the travels of the piano and Mason's description of them. I also loved the fact that the piano on its travels was referred to as a "singing elephant"!

I loved the relationship that Edgar still had with his wife and the way in which he used pieces of music to describe scenes and memories. I liked the technical bits about piano tuning. And I thought the changes in Edgar were sensitively explored.

Just a wonderful book, ideas from which will stay with me for a long time! Definitely one to go on my amazon wish list! It would have been a 10, except that I too wanted a different ending :-)

Just pm-ing KarinAlyssa now
PS Thanks to Musicalpenguin for the wonderful postcard :-)

Journal Entry 29 by nice-cup-of-tea from Zürich, Zürich Switzerland on Friday, March 3, 2006
Sent on its way (slow post) to KarinAlyssa today! Happy reading :-)

Journal Entry 30 by KarinAlyssa on Saturday, March 18, 2006
Received at my parents' house and now I have it as I'm there for the weekend, I'm reading another book currently, but I'm thinking of starting as soon as Tuesday. Thanks SqueakyChu for adding me to another one of your great rays and thanks for nice-cup-of-tea for mailing it all the way from Switzerland.

Journal Entry 31 by KarinAlyssa on Tuesday, March 28, 2006
What a wonderful little book ! It started simply in London and ended in the middle of Shan... This was a nice little story that allowed me to discover more about that era and Burma also as it's not the most common place. The style was flowing, although it was a bit tedious at some places especially the military reports given to Edgar to read. I understood that they were essential to understand Burma, but they simply slowed down the pace. Otherwise it was a great book.

Thanks Helen for sending the tea bag, it was delicious and SqueakyChu for sharing books so interesting as this one in rays ! The book was sent to Neuilly on Saturday morning.

Journal Entry 32 by KarinAlyssa on Sunday, May 21, 2006
Update : I received a PM from Neuilly informing me that the book had arrived at her parents' house, but she's away at school. The book will be sent to her at school by her parents, so she can read it.

Journal Entry 33 by Neuilly from Brooklyn, New York USA on Friday, July 14, 2006
Oh wow, I'm so sorry for the delay in writing an entry. I thought I'd written an entry when I received the book but apparently I forgot. I just got back from a one month vacation in Europe where I finally had a chance to read. It was a fun experience reading about foreign lands while being in some at the same time.

I enjoyed the book. There's a certain charm in Mason's writing which I think comes from his ability to weave together reality and dreams. It was a unique style and I enjoyed it although every now and then I wish there had been a little more hard fact in everyone's actions. Most of the "reality" came in the form of the history of the land and wars.

However, I understand why he chose to write it the way he did. The book really does make you think about everything and everyone.

I really enjoyed being able to read about another time and place. I knew something of the history but definitely not that much, and Mason really brings the people and their land to life.

PMing the next person on the list.

Thanks for adding me to this bookring, it was a very enjoyable read!

Journal Entry 34 by ldpaulson from Ventura, California USA on Monday, March 26, 2007
This well-traveled volume arrived in the post last week. I plunged in and the narrative is alternating between being compelling and fascinating or stiff and boring in odd combination. I also hate the authorial conceit of being beyond the need for punctuated conversation. YUCK!

But I'm still intrigued. We haven't encountered the mysterious Erard owner as of yet.

Journal Entry 35 by ldpaulson from Ventura, California USA on Monday, April 9, 2007
What a delightful read!

There's not more to be added because I concur with the previously stated opinions; those of bookhogger and vhackett in particular. I thought the prose was masterful, once the silliness of no quotation marks was discarded. (Of course, Mason returned to it at the conclusion, much to my irritation.) The journey was very HEARTS OF DARKNESS, military kook and hallucinations included (Or was that the booze and drugs in the Coppola film version that came to mind?). The ending was absolutely frustrating and out of character.

Thanks for sharing.

Journal Entry 36 by bartonz from Bellevue, Washington USA on Sunday, May 6, 2007
It's here and looking a little ragged, so I'll treat it gently. I have a couple other bookrings first, then will get right on it.

Journal Entry 37 by bartonz from Bellevue, Washington USA on Friday, May 25, 2007
I found the essence of it to be similar to several others that I've recently read about war -- All Quiet on the Western Front, Corelli's Mandolin, Suite Française, Birdsong. Many of these have soldiers who were or wanted to be musicians in peacetime and even the good doctor's name -- Anthony Carroll was like Antonio Corelli's who loved a doctor's daughter. Hmmm. The ending was foreshadowed and not unexpected.

Journal Entry 38 by LizzieM from Bowral, New South Wales Australia on Saturday, August 11, 2007
It''s arrived! I''ll hopfeully have this book read in week, and then onwards to Marko 167

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