An atmospheric and evocative first novel. Set in 1886, Edgar Drake is commissioned by the army to travel to Burma to tune an Erard grand piano which is in the possession of Major Surgeon Anthony Carroll. An unusual slant on the journey, the warfare and the sights, smells and textures of 19th century Burma.
It has been five days since I left London, I am sorry I have not written to you sooner, but Alexandris is our first mail stop since Marseilles, so I have decided to wait to write rather than send you letters that bear only thoughts. My dear, beloved Katherine, how can I describe the last few days to you? An how I wish that you were seeing! Just yesterday morning a new coastline appeared on the starboard side of the ship and I asked one of the sailors where it was. He answered, 'Africa', and seemed surprised by my question. Of course I felt foolish, but I could hardly control my excitement .... This morning we passed a small fishing boat, and a local fisherman stood and watched us steam by, a net hanging loosely from his hands, so close I could see the dried salt which dusted his skin. And less than a week ago I was still in London!