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The Upright Piano Player Paperback – 31 Mar 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: MacLehose Press (31 Mar. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849164053
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849164054
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 355,413 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'This is a fine, sensitive, moving book - a remarkable first novel' Justin Cartwright.

'(A) beautifully constructed debut' Catherine Taylor, Guardian.

'The menace simmering beneath the surface of its prose is compelling' Hephzibah Anderson, Daily Mail.

'Elegant, rich and gratifying' Claire Beale, Independent.

'It is beautifully written, the sentences polished like gems - but it is the book's substances that sticks in the mind' Anthony Capella.

From the Inside Flap

Henry Cage seemed to have it all. A successful business career, enough money, and a reputation for being a just and principled man. But public virtues can conceal private failings, and as Henry faces retirement, his well-ordered life begins to unravel. On the eve of the new millennium he is the victim of a random act of violence which soon escalates into a prolonged persecution, with unforeseen consequences. Family secrets are revealed, and when his ex-wife Nessa summons Henry to Palm Beach, he realises that there is little time to redress the mistakes of the past. The Upright Piano Player is a wise and acutely observed novel of family fracture, loss and reconciliation, with a powerful emotional punch. With a tender, yet unflinching eye, it explores the small but devastating flaws in human nature that can shape our destinies.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By J. Aitken VINE VOICE on 19 July 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I did enjoy David Abbott's first novel which was easily consumed over two days. The plot revolving round Henry Cage, a man recently retired, who through some unexpected circumstances finds himself a target of physical assault. He is also dealing with family trauma including the dying of cancer of his ex wife. Abbott pulls this altogether into a little page turner which is well written. My problem with the book however, is the lack of character development. Interesting characters are introduced, Jack his ex wife's lover, and Maude who briefly works at Henry's firm. They are written with particular character traits which singularly fail to develop. One wonders whether Abbott's interest in them is sufficient for them to make an appearance at all. A little more development, which in a 229 page novel could easily be managed, would have filled the book out with more interest. As it is, Abbott is clearly a talent to watch and I will certainly look out for his next book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Janie U VINE VOICE on 5 Jun. 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Henry is recently retired and is struggling to come to terms with the changes to his routine that this brings. In combination with various other traumatic events this develops into an emotional and well written story.
The book made me feel sympathy for Henry. The problems caused by his retirement are described very well and there is a good back story which gives context to the present day of the book.
As usual, I found myself getting frustrated that he was not completely open with the police but I understand his reasons - a large degree of shame is to blame which further enforces the trauma of the retirement.
The structure of the book was interesting. The end of the story is told at the beginning which gives the rest of the book a sadness which is always in your mind when you are reading it.
The fact that this is a first novel is quite astounding. It is a maturely put together book with no signs of the naivety which often identifies a new novellist.
I'll look forward to reading more from this author.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By D. M. York VINE VOICE on 13 Aug. 2010
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Life happens all at once, if you blink you may miss it. Such seems to be the message in the Upright Piano Player which in my opinion is one of the best written books I have had the pleasure to read. The novel begins with the aftermath of a horrible tragedy, and what follows looks into the past for each of the characters in a way reminiscent of The English Patient, charting the story of how a fractured family consolidated together after many years apart.

The story focuses mostly on Henry Cage, a successful and wealthy businessman who has just been forced into retirement, without his work he has almost nothing, his family has almost entirely disintegrated, his relationship with his ex-wife ended painfully and he no longer sees his son. The novel tells the story of the disintegration and reintegration with a great deal of care and paints a hugely vivid picture of a fractured family life. The novel is punctuated with beautifully real characters and situations to the extent that I did seriously find it nearly an impossibility to put the book down.

At its heart this book is a tragedy; do not go into it expecting something else. Though I have found this novel to be gloriously well written and in spite of the melancholic tone found it an absolute pleasure to read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Alan Pavelin VINE VOICE on 28 May 2010
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This excellent debut novel is by a founder-member of a leading advertising agency. It is a carefully worked-out portrayal of a retired executive (as is the author) and how a series of apparently random events leads to tragedy. Part one, just 10 pages, is set in 2004, while the rest of the book is part two, set a few years earlier with numerous flashbacks. So the climax comes right at the start, and if it had come at the end it would, I suspect, have been less effective.
Many "real-life" events and characters make their appearance, such as the millennium celebrations and the famous case of the farmer Tony Martin, jailed for killing an intruder. Even Cardinal Hume has a brief walk-on part. There is an extended conversation, on tape, between Orson Welles and an agency producer, which I didn't realise until reading the acknowledgements was an actual tape which was provided to the author. At some points the central character, Henry Cage, is reminiscent of myself, in fact a paragraph in chapter 9 describes myself quite accurately. So, for me, the character portrayal is psychologically convincing.
The only thing I haven't worked out is the significance of the title. But, overall, a highly recommended book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Cat Mac VINE VOICE on 29 Aug. 2010
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I feel a bit mean giving this one 3 stars - It isn't a bad book, it isn't even a middlin' sort of book, it's just that I feel it has the potential to be a four or five star book but something about it is unfinished.

'The Upright Piano Player' is billed as a book about family fracture, loss and reconciliation - which it is in essence, but I would argue that the real theme in the book is karmic balances, but this isn't explored to the fulfillment of the reader. We start off with a chapter set 5 years in the future of the rest of the book, and by not revisiting this at the end of the book I felt the need upon finishing to immediately flip back to the beginning to re-read this one chapter. The result is that this first chapter also became the last chapter for me and because it wasn't written as such, left no resolution and a faint feeling of frustration.

David Abbot writes well, with a punchy no nonsense sort of style which befits his main protagonist, but personally this book felt like an outline or sketch of a remarkable book which needed a bit more fleshing out in parts to realise its potential. A good effort, but not quite the finished article for me.
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