Monday, April 20, 2009

The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee

The Piano Teacher is an excellent novel that I found myself unable to put down. This novel is set during two different time periods in Hong Kong. One is 1941 where Englishman Will Truesdale arrives in Hong Kong and falls in love with Eurasian beauty Trudy Liang. The other is 1952 when Claire Pendleton arrives in Hong Kong with her husband Martin and becomes a piano teacher to a young Chinese girl, Locket Chen. Will is the Chen's chaffeur and soon begins an affair with Claire.

The real overall story is not of the "piano teacher," but of Trudy and Will. Trudy is a unique personality: beautiful, willful, strong. She is the type of persion that you may like like if you met her, but she would definitely capture your attention.

WWII and the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong changes their life and love forever. Will is interred in a camp for foreigners and Trudy is left on the outside trying to survive in horrific conditions. The novel explores the theme of what one would do to suvive and protect the ones you love. I have been thinking for this novel and theme for days. Throughout the novel, different characters showed different methods of suvival, some noble, some decidedly less so, and many in the gray zone in the middle.

The novel is full of suspense and romance as the novel unvolds, but is also explores the racial tensions in Hong Kong at the time.

The weakness of the novel to me was Claire's storyline. I didn't like Claire that much. She was a pale, weak character compared to Trudy and I never really was as interested in her as I was with Trudy. The only highlight for me was that the poor cuckholded husband, Martin, is an engineer working on water infrastrucutre in China. Toot - toot Janice Y.K. Lee - that is exactly what I do! Great job bringing more engineering into literature. You are not boring to me Martin!

Overall, this was a thought provoking great novel. I would LOVE to see it as a movie.


  1. This is one I am really looking forward to reading. I have noticed that Claire is not a favorite. I am glad to hear her husband somewhat makes up for it. :-) Great review!

  2. Sorry about the spacing problems in this post. I can't get the middle paragraph to split into three as it should be. Aggravating!

  3. I love the sound of this book. I too dont like weak characters, especially the women. For some reason I always want them to be strong and independent. :)

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