Cover of the book 'The piano tuner' by Daniel Mason.

Playing the piano in Birma

London, 1886. Piano tuner Edgar Drake is asked by the British Ministry of War to tune a piano in faraway Birma.

The instrument belongs to Anthony Carroll, a physician employed by the British army who has an unorthodox way of trying to keep peace with the local rulers: he shares his love of poetry, music, and science with them. Carroll achieves such positive results that the army grants him his wish for a piano and a tuner, which the soldiers think is quite bizarre.

The self-contained middle-class man Drake sets out on his journey. He becomes enchanted by the people and landscapes he encounters on the way. Once in Birma, he is completely spellbound by the beauty of the country, and the charms of a young lady from Carroll’s circle. When he has finished tuning the piano, he just cannot make himself leave.

The clever Carroll uses the naive Drake in his political games. The army thinks Carroll may be a double agent. The piano tuner does not know what to believe or how to act anymore.

Daniel Mason’s first novel presents its readers with a wonderful view of the intricate relationships in the former British colonies India and Birma. And, as a bonus to piano lovers, one gets to know all about the history of the Erard, the type of piano Edgar Drake specializes in.

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