Synopses & Reviews
An adroit first novel of exceptional grace and emotional power by a legendary British ad executive.
“David Abbott’s The Upright Piano Player is a wise and moving debut, an accomplished novel of quiet depths and resonant shadows.” —John Burnham Schwartz, author of The Commoner and Reservation Road
Henry Cage seems to have it all: a successful career, money, a beautiful home, 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. His ex-wife is ill, his relationship with his son is strained to the point of estrangement, and on the eve of the new millennium he is the victim of a random violent act which soon escalates into a prolonged harassment.
As his ex-wife's illness becomes grave, it is apparent that there is little time to redress the mistakes of the past. But the man stalking Henry remains at large. Who is doing this? And why? David Abbott brilliantly pulls this thread of tension ever tighter until the surprising and emotionally impactful conclusion. The Upright Piano Player is a wise and acutely observed novel about the myriad ways in which life tests us—no matter how carefully we have constructed our own little fortresses.
"In an elegant debut filled with anguish and yearning, a retired London executive stumbles through a detached life of loss and muted violence. After Henry Cage retires from the consulting firm he founded but lost control of, his quiet, solitary life closes in around him. His estranged son, Tom, lives on the coast with his wife and four-year-old son, Hal, whom Henry has never met, but who provides a catalyst for the family to reconnect once Tom tells Henry he's a grandfather. Also on the docket for a reconnection is Henry's ex-wife, Nessa, who now lives in Florida and, unbeknownst to Henry, is stricken with terminal cancer. Abbott takes these broken relationships and slowly works over their frayed ends with a delicate touch, sometimes mending them and other times hitting exposed nerves, and when Henry becomes the object of an obsessed violent stalker, the novel takes on a welcome texture of subtle menace that colors the unfolding family dramas. It's a very careful novel in its structure and revelations, but Abbott impresses most in his easy balance of the disparate plot elements (the stalker bit, which threatens to dip into the sensational, is precisely controlled) and overarching themes of reconnection and regret. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
DAVID ABBOTT worked for forty years in the advertising industry as a copywriter and creative director. He was a founding partner of Abbott Mead Vickers, Britain’s largest advertising agency. This is his first novel, and he is at work on his second.