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Friday, July 19, 2013

The Piano Teacher

The Piano Teacher by Janice Lee

I picked up The Piano Teacher on a whim. I was browsing the $1 section at Half-Price Books, and the title grabbed my attention. Then I noticed it was set in Asia during World War II. {For some inexplicable reason, this is one of my favorite settings.}

I didn't have any expectations about the book, but I absolutely loved it! For a first novel, especially, the story was compelling, the characters were complex and realistic, and I was so sad when it ended. (Not necessarily because of the ending--I just wanted to keep learning about what happened to the characters.)

The narrative takes place in Hong Kong and alternates between the early 1940s and 1950s, so you get a sense of the difference in the city before and after the war. Lee also captures the tension of the city's identity with its Chinese and British influence, along with the effect both Japan and America are having on its residents and culture as well.

Despite the title, the novel often centers on Will Truesdale, a British citizen who falls in love with the glamorous Eurasian Trudy just before the war. In the 1950s, he is involved with Claire, another British citizen, who has moved to Hong Kong with her husband and is teaching piano to the daughter of a Chinese family, the Chens, who turn out to be Trudy's cousins.

Because I didn't think I'd be doing a review, I neglected to jot down any quotes, but, looking back, I managed to grab a couple.

A soldier is only one part of a country...Certainly not representative of an entire people. And wartime makes different animals of us all.

How are they back to this already? This needling, their sophisticated parrying, from a time when such things mattered.

It's a beautiful book, and I think you'll be glad you checked it out!


  1. Anonymous7/19/2013

    I have several books to get through just now, but this one's going on my list. Thank you.
    Happy reading days!
    P.S. Love to the Teensies.

    1. Hooray, and I'll pass along love from Ms. Leah!

  2. I've read some great reviews about this book and just haven't gotten around to it. Glad to hear you enjoyed it!

    1. It was a new one to me, but I definitely enjoyed it!

  3. I'm off to see if it's at my local library. It sounds like a good one. Thanks for sharing :)

  4. Anonymous7/25/2013

    Just began The Piano Teacher yesterday. You're right, Tiffany. I was immediately drawn into the story, like a moth to a flame.
    Happy days ('scuse me, but I want to go read !)


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