The Secret Piano

  • by Zhu Xiao-Mei
  • Narrated by Nancy Wu
  • 9 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Zhu Xiao-Mei was three years old when she saw her first piano, a cherished instrument introduced into her family’s Beijing home by her mother. Soon after, the child began to play, developing quickly into a prodigy who immersed herself in the work of such classical masters as Bach and Brahms. Her astonishing proficiency earned her a spot at the Beijing Conservatory at the tender age of 11, where she began laying the foundation for a promising career as a concert pianist. But in 1966, with the onset of the Cultural Revolution, life as she knew it ended abruptly.
The Communist Party’s campaign against culture forced the closure of art schools and resulted in the deportation of countless Chinese, including Xiao-Mei and her entire family. She spent five years in a work camp in Inner Mongolia, suffering under abysmal living conditions and a brutal brainwashing campaign. Yet through it all, Xiao-Mei kept her dream alive, drawing on the power of music to sustain her courage.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A very powerful story

Would you consider the audio edition of The Secret Piano to be better than the print version?

No, but then I enjoy reading. I purchased this audible version on a whim. I do have an extensive audible book library (mostly on tape :-)) but I tent to read more than listen. The idea of reading the book in the house then listening to it in the car appealed to me.

The read, listen, read feature with the Kindle is amazing. The last read pointers are spot to taking you to the page or first read paragraph of the page when listening. Amazing when you think about it. But this is not supposed to be a review of Whisper Sync


What did you like best about this story?

I am not a big biography|autobiography person. Read a few in school when I had to and maybe 3 others in the last 30 years. So if your are looking for a comparative review this is not it.

The opportunity to read an uncensored account about someones experiences in another country by someone approximately my age appealed to me.

As I recall growing up the cultural revolution in China was a good thing. At least that was the common consensus in the media at the time. This book proves otherwise.


Have you listened to any of Nancy Wu’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No, this is my first book by her. She is very articulate and easy to listen to. Definitely not the cheap pigeon English knock off other producers have used when trying to tell an Asian story.


Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

You simply can not read or listing to this book without tearing up. It is a painfully unbiased account of at best brutal times in China. It would serve some people well to read it before parroting the current anti-Chinese sediment made popular by recent elections.

The author has given a large gift of herself by writing this book. And I would imaging put herself at considerable risk. For that I am extremely grateful and will try to get some of my more biased friends to read and or listen to it.

You can not get a much more extreme reaction than trying to get a red neck friend to read a book about a pianist in a commie country!


Any additional comments?

This is simply a must experience book. It has a place on the required reading list for high school. Too bad reading is no longer required in high school.

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- Ed Patterson

Music, Philosophy, and Life

An interesting book, which provided me with an insight into the Communist regime in China, which I had not previously had. The parts about music were so touchingly passionate, humble, and sincere, almost reverential towards the end, that I often sat with tears in my eyes.

I did think, though, that I would've been able to appreciate it more, had I had a greater knowledge of classical music, theory, and composers.

I enjoyed the religious/philosophical comparisons, and especially the sayings of Lao Tzu and Taoism.

The narrator was really easy on the ear and I found her reading enjoyable.

A very worthwhile book I would listen to again.
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- Vira

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-06-2012
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio