Piano Tide: A Novel

Released December 13, 2016

piano tideDo we belong to the Earth or does the Earth belong to us? The question raised by Chief Seathl almost two centuries ago continues to be the defining quandary of the wet, wild rain forests along the shores of the Pacific Northwest. It seethes below the tides of the fictional town of Good River Harbor, a little village pressed against the mountains – homeland to bears, whales, and a few weather-worn families.

In Piano Tide, the debut novel by award-winning naturalist, philosopher, activist, and writer Kathleen Dean Moore, we are introduced to town father Axel Hagerman, who has made a killing in this remote Alaskan harbor by selling off the spruce, the cedar, the herring and halibut. But when he decides to export the water from a salmon stream, he runs head-long into young Nora Montgomery, just arrived on the ferry with her piano and her dog. Nora has burned her bridges in the lower 48, and she aims to disappear into this new homeland, with her piano as her anchor. But when Axel’s next business proposition, a bear pit, turns lethal, Nora has to act. The clash, when it comes, is a spectacular and transformative act of resistance.


"...and you will say – maybe you mumble this into my hair – you will say, 'We can find a better way, Rebecca. There has to be a better way'."


Piano Tide is available at local booksellers, or online at Amazon.


Environmental Ethics

The respected philosophy journal, Environmental Ethics, recommends Piano Tide for environmental ethics and environmental literature courses. Click here to read the review.

Kim Stanley Robinson

“PIANO TIDE joins Ken Kesey’s SAILOR SONG as one of the great novels of Alaska and its convoluted coast and history.  A small group of people making a life in a village by the sea:  this is Kathy Moore’s canvas, and she paints a really beautiful, intense, funny and lively portrait of Nora and her new neighbors.  How to live in this world?  Moore lets us ponder this by way of a great story, in this marvelous debut novel.” -- Kim Stanley Robinson, author of Years of Rice and Salt

Bill McKibben

“I think Kathleen Dean Moore can do anything--including write a savagely funny and deeply insightful novel of the tidepool and rainforest country she knows so well!" -- Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth

Nancy Lord

“PIANO TIDE captures with remarkable perception the beauty of Alaska, the environmental conflicts that tear at and unite communities, and the interconnectedness of all things. You’ll be swept into this world as if by a turning tide, and you will love the characters—human and otherwise—you find there.  Moore writes from deep knowledge and empathy, with an open heart." -- Nancy Lord, author of Fishcamp, Beluga Days, and Early Warming, former Alaska Writer Laureate

BK Loren

“Piano Tide is a rare beauty, a novel whose deeply flawed characters are written with compassion and insight; a book vibrating with drama and lyrical prose side-by-side with hard-hitting questions that ask how earth—and all life on earth—will survive uncompromising capitalism. Moore introduces the philosophical 'Problem of Unnecessary Beauty' — why beauty in nature sometimes thrives for no apparent reason. But Piano Tide is a necessary beauty. You may read it in one sitting; but when you turn that last page, you’ll want to stand up for the things we share: this earth, this life, this wild and enduring hope." -- BK Loren, author of Theft and Animal, Mineral, Radical

John Perry

“I began reading Piano Tide at half-time of a Warriors game on TV. Hours later my bedtime had come and gone. I had no idea how the game turned out. But I had finished the book and wished for more. The characters are complex and sympathetic. They draw us into deep philosophical issues. The writing is environmental phenomenology. We not only understand the issues, we experience them – we see them and smell them and taste them – not only from the environmentalist’s point of view, but from that of the bear, the salmon, the raven, and even the entrepreneur. It is a great read." -- John Perry, co-host, NPR’s “Philosophy Talk”

Robin W. Kimmerer

"I am so grateful for the presence of this story in the world, stirring us to imagine what it means to be part of the community of life, human and more than human. In a tiny Alaskan village where forest touches the sea, the tide rises and falls beneath the feet of unforgettable characters poised on the edge, in choices large and small of the responsibilities we bear for what we love; family, land, ideas and honor.  Kathleen Dean Moore asks powerful questions, clothed in beautiful language deeply evocative of place. The scent, sound and texture of the land and the water are vividly present  in such exquisitely observed detail that they become characters in a drama of decisions of what does it mean to love." -- Robin W. Kimmerer, author of Braiding Sweetgrass

Annick Smith

"In Piano Tide, Kathleen Dean Moore has given us a an action adventure, a lesson in the natural history of Southeast Alaska, and a cast of unforgettable backwoods characters.  As Pacific tides rise and fall, almost engulfing the hamlet called Good River Harbor, we witness humans as well as bears, salmon, and the forest itself, fighting to survive amid forces of man-made destruction and nature’s renewal.  Piano Tide is a fine read, sure to join the ranks of Ed Abbey’s Monkey Wrench Gang on the eco/thriller bookshelf." -- Annick Smith, author of Crossing the Plains with Bruno and Homestead

Book Clubs Discussion Guide

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