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Hardcover The Piano Teacher Book

ISBN: 0670020486

ISBN13: 9780670020485

The Piano Teacher

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Format: Hardcover

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

"A rare and exquisite story . . . Transports you out of time, out of place, into a world you can feel on your very skin." --Elizabeth Gilbert The New York Times bestseller Janice Y.K. Lee's latest... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Engaging, moving read

I had a hard time putting this book down. Some of the characters seemed to come alive, especially the vivacious Trudy Liang. I found myself mourning by the end, something which is not usual for me with books. The historical and human contrasts are many--East vs West, Chinese vs Japanese, pre-war vs post-war Hong Kong, rich and sheltered vs war-torn and lost, etc.--and are dealt with thoroughly and skillfully by the author. I look forward to her future works.

An extraordinary book...

I stumbled across this book in the literary fiction selections on my Kindle and could not put it down...a fascinating story with finely drawn characters...I am sad to have finished it particularly since it is rare to be swept up like this.

Hong Kong Before the Changing of the Guard

"The Piano Teacher," a debut novel by Janice Y.K. Lee that can, I guess, best be classified as an historical romantic thriller, is set in Hong Kong, one of the most beautiful and exotic of all cities. It takes place during the glamorous, immediate prewar years of the 1940s; the dark days of World War II, and the dreary, immediate post-war years of that city. The author, Lee was born and raised in Hong Kong, graduated from Harvard College, and was features editor at "Elle," and "Mirabella" magazines. The writer's love of her hometown shines through on every page, with exemplary descriptions of the island city's seagoing location, its weather, its flora and fauna, its food and housing, and its social mores. She has given us some very well-honed major characters; two love stories for the price of one, good dialogue, and an intense, interesting plot set at a very fraught time and place in history. Hong Kong, of course, was considered to be British forever, despite the fact that the majority of its population was mainland Chinese; however, it was handed over to the Chinese, with suitable pomp and a ceremonial changing of the guard, in 1999. In 1942, a handsome Englishman Will Truesdale, newly arrived in H.K., falls overnight into a hot and heavy affair with Trudy Liang, rich and beautiful Eurasian socialite ( half-Portuguese, half Chinese). The war, and the invasion and occupation of the Japanese, sees Will imprisoned with other English civilians, while Trudy is able to remain outside; but she must fend for herself as best she can. The war and occupation, as we know from history, had cruel effects upon the city and its people. (I once knew a fellow who had served in a WW II submarine; he always said his most memorable moment was the liberation of Hong Kong, and the eyes of the surviving civilians as they were released from their hellish prison camps). At any rate, Trudy dies in the war, as do many of her friends and relatives; Will survives badly scarred physically and emotionally. Ten years later, he has, for whatever his reasons, taken up work as chauffeur to the Chens, a very wealthy, prominent Chinese Hong Kong family, when he meets their daughter's new piano teacher. She is Claire Pendleton, an unworldly, inexperienced English girl, newly arrived in Hong Kong as the young wife of a senior English bureaucrat. They also quickly embark upon a passionate relationship that is soon known to one and all, but his past - and Trudy --still keep a jealous hold on him. For a tyro writer, Lee handles the flashbacks with ease, and keeps both stories tracking. This may not be a perfect book, but it is engrossing, haunting, and likely to have resonance long past the Hong Kong handover of ten years ago.


Seldom have I been so captivated, so thoroughly absorbed by a novel. This skillful author's style is easy, so unaffected that one is immediately lost in the atmosphere she creates, transported by her descriptions. You feel the moist heat of the day on your skin, inhale the rich fragrance of jasmine, see the harbor frosted with stars, and shiver with fear in the face of torture or death. To read The Piano Teacher is to enter another world, a world that soon becomes as true as your own. You are immersed in her words, your heart is touched, and your senses engaged. Janice Y. K. Lee's narrative alternates between decades. It is 1952 when the recently married Claire Pendleton arrives in Hong Kong. Her husband, Martin, is an engineer who is to oversee the building of a reservoir. He's a rather dull sort to Claire, "She was not so attracted to him, but who was she to be picky...." Thus she had accepted his proposal. She finds Hong Kong quite to her liking, and takes a job with the wealthy Chen family simply to pass the time. She will teach their daughter, Locket, how to play the piano. Will Truesdale, an Englishman, arrived in Hong Kong in the early 1940s. He soon met the elegant Trudy Laing, a striking, enigmatic Eurasian girl. She was the belle of Hong Kong, one who loved beautiful clothes, expensive parties, and to tease. Will fell madly in love. Their liaison was cut short by the invasion of the Japanese. In short time Will, along with other English, American and Dutch, are sent to an interment camp where horror upon horror is visited upon them. Trudy is left to fend for herself in a war torn city, attempting to do so by ingratiating herself with Otsubo, the vicious head of the gendarmerie. She pleads with Will to let her use influence to get him out of the camp. He refuses, whether due to honor or fear he does not know. After the war he meets Claire who learns to care for him little knowing his past and what an effect it has had upon him. Or, for that matter does she know of how the Chan family has impacted his life. Lee has adroitly reconstructed pages of history peopling them with fictional characters who make choices for good or ill under the most dire circumstances. The Piano Teacher is not to be forgotten. Janice Y. K. Lee's writing is to be celebrated. Highly recommended. - Gail Cooke

The Choices We Make to Survive

This had the flavor of The Great Gatsby, the well to do characters spend their days going from luncheon to evening parties and everyone is concerned about who's who. That is, on the surface it has that flavor. Beneath is a gripping story more about Trudy and Will than about the piano teacher, Claire and the desperate desire to survive. The characters in this book are well developed. There is a lot going on beneath the surface that the author lets you discern. Life in Hong Kong during the 40's is a lark and all about the parties you go to, until the Japanese occupation. Will is interned along with many of the other socialites. Life becomes getting food, keeping warm, keeping from being infested, keeping from being singled out for abuse. Trudy is free and Will is interned. And suddenly one day, Will is given one week of freedom... Ten years later, Claire and her husband arrive in Hong Kong. Claire meets Will and they quickly begin an affair. She wonders about this quiet man who seems distant and thoughtless even while making her want him. I know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover and yet I did. I loved the beautiful gilt floral border at the bottom and in this case, judging a book by its cover was spot on.
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