Book: The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee

Cover of "The Piano Teacher: A Novel"
Cover of The Piano Teacher: A Novel

This book takes place in two different decades in Hong Kong, 1943 and 1953.  It describes the lives of the people from many countries who live in Hong Kong, the atrocities that happened during WWII, and how they survived.

I liked this book but didn’t love it.  It puts into words more horrific details from WWII – never easy to read.   I blame some of my indifference to this book on the fact that I was slow in reading it and didn’t get a good flow going, so maybe lost something in continuity.

Excerpt from B&N from goodreads:

Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
Exotic Hong Kong takes center stage in this sumptuous novel, set in the 1940s and ’50s. It’s a city teeming with people, sights, sounds, and smells, and it’s home to a group of foreign nationals who enjoy the good life among the local moneyed set, in a tight-knit social enclave distanced from the culture at large. Comfortable, clever, and even a bit dazzling, they revel in their fancy dinners and fun parties. But their sheltered lives take an abrupt turn after the Japanese occupation, and though their reactions are varied — denial, resistance, submission — the toll it takes on all is soon laid bare.

Enter Claire Pendleton from London. Months after her husband is transferred to Hong Kong in 1951, she accepts a position as a piano teacher to the daughter of a wealthy couple, the Chens. Claire begins to see the appeal of the sweltering city and is soon taken in by the Chen’s driver, the curiously underutilized Will Truesdale. A handsome charmer with a mysterious limp, Will appears to be the perfect companion for Claire, who’s often left to her own devices. But a further examination leaves her with more questions than answers.

An intricately woven tale of lives changed by historical events, Lee’s debut brings this hothouse flower of a city alive with passion, and imagines characters both unforgettable and tragic.
(Spring 2009 Selection)

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