The Piano Teacher- Janice Y.K. Lee

Image from Amazon

 Synopsis (from Amazon)

In 1942, Will Truesdale, an Englishman newly arrived in Hong Kong, falls headlong into a passionate relationship with  Trudy Liang, a beautiful Eurasian socialite. But their love affair is soon threatened by the invasion of the Japanese, with terrible consequences for both of them, and for members of their fragile community who will betray each other in the darkest days of the war. Ten years later, Claire Pendleton lands in Hong Kong and is hired by the wealthy Chen family as their daughter’s piano teacher. A provincial English newlywed, Claire is seduced by the colony’s heady social life. She soon begins an affair!only to discover that her lover’s enigmatic demeanour hides a devastating past. As the threads of this compelling and engrossing novel intertwine and converge, a landscape of impossible choices emerges — between love and safety, courage and survival, the present and above all, the past.


I did quite like this book but I was only ever interested in one side of the story at a time. Initially I quite liked Claire’s story and seeing how she approached the culture in Hong-Kong as a British woman. From the way some of the other British living in Hong-Kong were described I thought that bit could have gone quite wrong, with Claire just being a bit of a socialite and not seeing the ‘real’ Hong-Kong. In some ways I did feel like there was a very British feel to the novel, it was almost as if the bits of Hong-Kong culture were added in order to remind the reader that The Piano Teacher wasn’t actually set in the U.K. However in other cases it was interesting to read about how Hong-Kong nationals had actually joined their own culture with the British culture.

In the early points I didn’t like Trudy and Will’s story at all. I wasn’t interested in the life of a socialite at all, and to be honest I really didn’t like Trudy, mainly she annoyed me. As the story progressed I started preferring this story to Claire’s however. I am a frequent reader of stories set in war time, and as war approached I found the book much more interesting, especially as I had known next to nothing about Hong-Kong during the second world war. I still didn’t like Trudy though.

To be honest I think I just would have preferred this book if it was a book about Hong-Kong during war time, and I think there was enough material to make that possible.


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Filed under Fiction review, Historical

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