Title: The Piano Teacher
Author: Janice Y. K. Lee
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: November 17, 2009
Format: Paperback, 352 pages
Age Group: Adult
The Piano Teacher is a tale of two romances taking place in Hong Kong during and after the Japanese invasion in World War II. In 1941, Will Truesdale arrives in Hong Kong from England and is soon involved with Trudy Liang. Will is sent to an internment camp with other foreigners while Trudy must fight for survival in her own way outside the camp. In 1952, Claire Pendleton arrives in Hong Kong with her new husband and is hired as the piano teacher for the Chen's daughter. When she crosses paths with Will, there is an instant attraction. As their romance deepens, Claire discovers that Will keeps many secrets and soon she is pulled into the politics of the past.
Lee does a wonderful job of creating the atmosphere of Hong Kong during the Japanese invasion in World War II. The emotional distress of Trudy and Will comes through clearly as they both struggle to balance moral and ethical choices against survival. Claire faces similar struggles later in the novel, although it is her lifestyle at stake rather than her life.
Although the book initially starts out alternating chapters of the time line, later chapters from 1941 are more grouped together as are those from 1952. The chapters are clearly labeled with the month and year which does make it easy to identify which part of the story you are reading. Unfortunately, I would be drawn into one aspect of the story for several chapters and then pulled out of it to switch to the other storyline. This made the novel a bit choppy for me.
Without giving anything away, I will say that I was a bit dissatisfied with the ending. Although it may be quite true to life, I found myself wondering what happened next as it felt somewhat unresolved.
Overall, The Piano Teacher is quite a solid novel and I believe that it just didn't suit my reading tastes as much as I'd hoped it would. After all, it was on The New York Times Bestseller list.
I was provided a copy of The Piano Teacher by Gabrielle at Penguin Publicity for the purposes of providing an honest review.
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