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The Upright Piano Player [Paperback]

David Abbott
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
Price: 7.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

31 Mar 2011

Henry Cage seemed to have it all. A successful business career, considerable wealth, 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 tragic 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 explores with a tender, yet unflinching eye the small but devastating flaws in human nature that can shape our destinies.


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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 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 334,671 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

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 the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By J. Aitken VINE VOICE
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Sympathetically told story 5 Jun 2010
By Janie U TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
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
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Light weight and unbelievable 19 Mar 2011
Format:Paperback
This short debut novel has a few good moments but seems unable to decide what it is or where it is going. The language is light yet the subject matter at times dark with an threatening feel. The characters, with the exception of Henry are not developed, and hold no emotional grip on the reader, or are totally unbelievable such as Colin, Henry's nemesis. Several plot developments are either unlikely or go nowhere. Unsatisfactoy on the whole, although fortunately not long and easy to read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sketches of Pain 29 Aug 2010
By C. CAMPBELL VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Adequate 8 Aug 2010
By P. Millar VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
It starts with one of the best (or worst) death scenes I have ever read - you can really see and feel what is happening in all of its sickening well written 'glory' - it helps to give us sympathy for the main character before we even know who he is. The main narrative then steps back five years and details Henry Cage's life when he is forced into retirement by the company he helped to set-up. The first 100 pages come across like an Anita Brookner novel: themes of loneliness, life regretted and the boredom of retirement exposed in delightful prose. After that it starts to go nowhere in particular and nothing really develops, and by the end it doesn't tie up with the prologue - as though the writer had two different stories in mind but couldn't quite mesh them together.

It is a well written novel which doesn't take long to read and holds your attention for the duration, but it lacks something to make it very good rather than just OK.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Sad but not depressing
This book is beautiful in parts, though it deals with some ugly issues and events. It's very sad almost all the way through though there are lighter moments sprinkled... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Patsy Collins
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty decent, minor key debut novel
The book opens mightily, with the aftermath of a freak accident; then rewinds five years and unfolds in (third person) flashback, much less mightily, as the eponymous piano player,... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Andrew Sutherland
1.0 out of 5 stars badly constructed
I can barely give this novel one star. The title is ridiculous and has no bearing on the novel apart from the fact that the protagonist sometimes plays. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Jennifer
3.0 out of 5 stars Regrets, i've had a few...
This is a debut novel. Thoughtful and thought provoking. It tells the story of Henry, a man in reflective mood after the death of his grandson, for which his daughter in law partly... Read more
Published on 21 April 2012 by TJ Barry, Author - Upmarket suspense
5.0 out of 5 stars a fantastic read!
Just finished reading this book. Thoroughly enjoyed every page. Excellently written, beautiful narrative with a proper beginning, middle and end. Read more
Published on 26 Mar 2012 by M. Harney
3.0 out of 5 stars Well Written but depressing
The book opens with Henry's Grandson's funeral and steadily gets more miserable from then on. A well written examination of how lonely, regretful and depressed a person can get... Read more
Published on 8 Jan 2012 by Michelle Routledge
5.0 out of 5 stars What A Great Debut, Hope His Second One Comes Quicker Than The First
`The Upright Piano Player' has possibly one of the most gripping, horrifying and gut wrenching opening chapters I think I have come across in a long time. Read more
Published on 20 Jun 2011 by Simon Savidge Reads
2.0 out of 5 stars The Upright Piano Player
I was very disapointed and I certainly wouldn't recommend this book. I felt it was written in a heavy-handed way and couldn't engage with any of the characters.
Published on 4 May 2011 by lizziebee
1.0 out of 5 stars Pretty boring and vacuous
My impression from reading Chapter 1, was of a novel focussed very much on the nature of loss, and how this affects us all, a reflection on mortality that each reader could relate... Read more
Published on 15 Dec 2010 by Sandford
5.0 out of 5 stars Feeling Henry
When I was reading page 19 I realised with relief that I wasn't Henry, but for the rest of the novel I was being and watching and feeling Henry. Read more
Published on 30 Sep 2010 by Mac
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