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The Piano Teacher

3.29 of 5 stars 3.29  ·  rating details  ·  14,295 ratings  ·  2,305 reviews
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Exotic Hong Kong takes center stage in this sumptuous novel, set in the 1940s and '50s. It's a city teeming with people, sights, sounds, and smells, and it's home to a group of foreign nationals who enjoy the good life among the local moneyed set, in a tight-knit social enclave distanced from the culture at large. Comfortable, c
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MP3 Book, 0 pages
Published January 13th 2009 by Penguin Group (USA) (first published 2008)
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Elaine
Two days ago I thought my review of this book would be quite different than it is. Two days ago I was on page 113 of this book and I was getting frustrated with the vapid characters who were either spending all their time acting the part of the privileged upper class English ex-pats in Hong Kong or (in Claire's case) stealing trinkets. Even the war-time surrender of Hong Kong to the Japanese seemed only a minor inconvenience to these people. However, a mere 13 pages later, the story rapidly grow ...more
Jennifer
Lee alternates between two different time periods to tell the story of betrayal in war time Hong Kong. (Does anyone just write a linear story any more? Seems like every book I pick up these days uses this kind of device).

I really enjoyed the 1940's story line of Will and Trudy during the war - An Englishman and a Eurasian woman who are in the thick of the pre-war social scene and how their lives change when the Japanese invade Hong Kong. Will is interned as a prisoner of war and Trudy decides t
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Britney
I've found that it's easy to find World War II literature that focuses on the Holocaust or on the American experience. It's harder to find books that explore the non-Western experience. The Piano Teacher explores how lives in Hong Kong in the 1950s was affected by the Japanese invasion of the British colony during the war.

Ultimately, the 1940s parts were more compelling. I wanted to know more about the relationship between Will and Trudy, Will's experience in an internment camp with other Weste
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Bonnie
Interested in more of my reviews? Visit my blog!

I didn’t enjoy this quite as much as I had hoped. The story was riveting; however, the characters were tremendously shallow, hard to understand, and extremely hard to like.

The Storyline
The story switches points of view between 1953 and 1942 when World War II has struck Hong Kong.

In 1953, Claire and Martin Pendleton, a recently married English couple, have moved to Hong Kong. Claire becomes a piano teacher teaching a young girl named Locket. Her pa
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Barbara
Jan 11, 2010 Barbara rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Barbara by: Susan
Shelves: asia, holocaust-ww-2
I completed this novel feeling frustrated and deflated. Yee could have expanded what she had so capably initiated.The manner which she utilized to relate this tale is often muddled and confusing. The story is set in Hong Kong and weaves back and forth between the 40's and 50's. She has clearly demonstrated the attitudes of class among the British, Americans and the native people. On one hand there are the people who are leading their frivolous existences similar to the Gatsby era and then there ...more
Dorothy
rating:
bookshelves: read (edit)
status: Read in March, 2009, read count: 1
review: The cover of this book, The Piano Teacher, is its saving grace. It is a novel that attempts to provide some insights into conditions in Hong Kong prior to, during, and after World War II. It is a part of the world where the English, others, and the wealthy Chinese families form a tangled web of relationships.
On the one hand, we have Will Truesdale who finds himself strangely drawn to a Eurasian sprite of a girl,
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Christina
the salespeople at Borders did me wrong! in their defense, i had but 10 minutes on my parking meter and made a hasty decision to buy this book.

and what a book! what a dumb book. boring story. i kept waiting for the story to get moving and it never did.

this is a slow story about a bunch of english ex-pats living in hong kong and going to parties, having affairs, stealing things. Part 2 gets only mildly interesting when the japanese invade.

boring boring boring characters. i didn't really care w
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Kaye
It is so hard to believe that this is a debut novel. I found it wonderfully written and I was drawn in immediately. The story starts out in 1952 as we are introduced to Claire Pendleton, recent arrival in Hong Kong with her much older husband, Martin. Claire has been hired by the socially prominent Chen family to teach Locket Chen the piano. When the Chen family invites Claire and her husband to a party, she meets Will Truesdale, the Chen chauffer. The Chen family and Will Truesdale figure promi ...more
Jennifer
The beginning was a little hard to get into. I was about to give up so read some of the reviews on here found I wasn't alone. I pushed through and I'm so glad I did!! This was a beautifully written, it brought Hong Kong and the war alive. There were very interesting characters as well. Around page 100 it got so good I devoured the rest!
Charly
Nov 11, 2009 Charly rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People with short to-read lists
This is another one that I wouldn't put to the top of my to read list. It was a first effort I think by the author and I thought I would give it a chance. Set in Hong Kong it deals with pre-war to post_war relationships that were somewhat transparent to me. Nothing to write home about.
Debbie
Ambitious. Somewhat intriguing. Good but not perfect.

The Piano Teacher definitely turned out to be much different then I thought it would be. It's a WWII story (for some reason I'm drawn to them) with flash backs. The story takes place in present of the 1950's Hong Kong, a decade after the war. A British woman named Claire arrives with her husband Martin who has obtained a position at a water plant. Claire is trying to find her place among the other expatriates and her new surroundings. She doe
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Sharmeela
Jun 26, 2012 Sharmeela rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: umm how about a piano teacher...or Chinese people...prob not Japanese though
Recommended to Sharmeela by: me
This book was just okay. The plot had such potential, but Lee chose to squander it somewhat. I'll admit I enjoyed the past/present flow of the story, but the actual story was more boring than anything. I found myself waiting and waiting for Lee to get to the point, to no avail. I assumed (naively) that since I'm waiting and waiting for this giant secret to emerge, that it would have to be something worthwhile. But alas, I was wrong! It was the most obvious secret ever! I was thoroughly disappoin ...more
Elizabeth
Disappointment. Although that's what this book sets out to portray, it accomplishes it in a different way that the author intended.
Set in the historically fascinating world of British Hong Kong in the 1940s and 50s, The Piano Teacher begins as a rather artsy novel that had a lot of potential. However, it fell flat about three or four chapters in, and the rest was dull and underachieving. Where Janice K. Lee has promise as a novelist, this book needed more personal editing and plot consolidation
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Judy
Have you ever read a book at just the right time? That was the case with this book. I was feeling like something light, chicklit-ish, so this book hit the spot. I enjoyed the backdrop of the British-Chinese-Japanese contention. The portrayal of the Chinese difficulty in survival in their own country, camps, British betrayal of the Chinese and the look at some Chinese who profited by selling out their own people offered several perspectives of this terrible time in Chinese history.

All that aside
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Jennifer
I liked the book fine. The story was good, but I found that I was annoyed by the author's style, which I found disorienting and confusing. With fiction, I usually start a book and don't put the book down, but with this book, I read the first 20 or 30 pages and found the disjointed writing really did not pull me in to the story. I put the book down and didn't come back for over a month --- and didn't really have a burning desire to come back during that time.

I have recently read Water for Elephan
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Adrienne
October 10....I've had a chance to sleep on this even though I went to bed crying,woke in the night crying and have been weepy for most of the day when I think about this story. B/c it's had such a profound affect on me....like a Megan Hart it's staying and not going quietly...I've decided to give it 5 stars. I stopped giving stars, in the hopes that you guys would read the review and then decide if the book was one you'd like to read but I feel so strongly about this one.....My emotion at the m ...more
Jennifer
"the writing is beautiful, the research is superb, and the setting is fantastic". Two love stories 10 years apart. War changes everything and torments the survivors. She deftly describes Hong Kong weather (torrents of rain) the heat, the crowded market streets and the prison where the non-asian were imprisoned.

I listened to this and loved the narrator.
Sandi
The Piano Teacher takes place in Hong Kong and basically deals with how the characters in the story are affected by the Japanese occupation.

This book switches between the the early 1940's and the early 1950's. Set in Hong Kong, it is easy to follow these jumps from from one era back and forth to the other. The title makes the reader assume that the main character is the person who teaches piano (Claire). Claire is in the 1950's part of the story. The 1940's part focuses on Will Truesdale and Tr
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Marc Maitland
Because of the mixed reviews, and this being the author’s first work, I really had no idea what to expect. Criticised by some and described as “this year’s ‘Atonement’” by others (in a presumably complimentary way), I was very pleased with both the plot and the very well-researched attention to detail. In my opinion, it is a far better read than Ian McEwan’s “Atonement”, which I read (and reviewed) a year ago.



I don’t even want to attempt to summarise the plotline, which basically jumps between
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Maya Panika
Don't judge a book by its cover!

On the surface, this is a romance novel about a man’s One Great Love that can’t withstand the rigours of the war, and a less than great affair with a married piano teacher. Underneath that surface lies a cleverly constructed mystery about a beautiful socialite who disappears during the war and the people responsible, directly and indirectly, for her death.

Some of the characters grow rich, stay safe, become successful, others are interned, tortured and die – and
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Andrew Smith
‘The Piano Teacher’ was recommended to me by a woman who came to a reading I gave from my own World War II novel: ‘Edith’s War’ published last March. She was enthusiastic about ‘The Piano Teacher,’ assuring me that I would find it interesting because it’s set in a similar time period. The woman was correct in that I found the WWII sections of the book (which take place in Hong Kong) interesting in a historical and factual sense. I had no knowledge of the hardships encountered by British and Chin ...more
Lori
Claire, the piano teacher of the title, is a bland, blonde, naive young British newlywed recently relocated to Hong Kong with her husband. She takes a position as a piano teacher for the young daughter of a wealthy Chinese family and she is introduced to the brittle, shallow, wealthy, prejudiced expatriate community in 1950's Hong Kong. Eventually she meets and begins an affair with Will Truesdale, a long-time British expatriate with a mysterious history.

Alternating chapters with Claire's story
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Jeff
“The Piano Teacher” is a gripping and incredibly well-told novel about love and survival in wartime. Lee’s exceptionally researched story unfolds in Hong Kong both before and after WWII, detailing little-known aspects of the expat community (Brits, Canadians, Americans, and Eurasians) and their experiences during the Japanese invasion of their beloved city. The dual narratives may focus on the romantic relationships between one man and two different women, but this is not simply a love story; it ...more
Ruthie
As many readers have noted, this book starts out as a pleasant story, alternating between high society in 1940's Hong Kong, and 1950's Hong Kong. Not very interesting, but then everything changes as war starts in 1941, and when it has ended in the 50's. Lee's story puts us right in the action, you read about a very different wartime experience, and this is a tale that weaves and unwinds credibly!
Elevate Difference
Janice Y. K. Lee's debut novel, The Piano Teacher, takes the reader inside the upper social circles of Hong Kong during and ten years after World War II. The book opens in 1950s Hong Kong with Claire Pendleton, a young British wife who is bored and takes a job teaching piano to the daughter of a wealthy Hong Kong couple. “It started as an accident. The small Herend rabbit had fallen into Claire's purse.” In these first two lines of the novel, Claire is stealing an expensive figurine from her emp ...more
Gerri Leen
Another one I'm on the fence as to how to rate. Major points for being a sweeping saga that manages to stay intimately focused on just a few characters. Also loved the fact that it moved quickly, made me want to pick it up, and was impeccably crafted in a non-linear style, which I love (if it's not confusing, and this was not). I didn't know much about Hong Kong just before and during WWII, (although I had a feel for Shanghai during that time due to watching Lust, Caution so that may have made t ...more
Gretchen
This is an absorbing novel set in Hong Kong before, during, and after the occupation by the Japanese during World War II. The characterization is well developed, and it seems like a character–driven novel. But as you get into it, the plot – at first subtle – takes on import nearly as strong as the characters. Hong Kong, btw, is almost itself a character. It is a good read – you won't want to put it down. I only had two problems with it. First, it is not told in chronological order. It isn't real ...more
Amit Shetty
A beautiful story with no ending

The above statement probably summarizes how I feel about the book. Set in China, the story deals with a multitude of characters with no one playing the central role (not even the piano teacher). What I loved about this book was the fact that every chapters shifted from one timeline to another giving the reader a detailed glimpse of the present and the past. This is particularly effective in this book since the past basically deals with the multitude of crimes com
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Eva
Usually if a book is on the Kramer Book's "crack table" (their display of books that is so addictive that I cannot leave the store without purchasing something) it is at a minimum an interesting read. This one.... Well, let's say it is 2 1/2 stars. The story is set in Hong Kong and basically that of two women and the man they are involved with ... not at the same time. One during WWII and the Japanese occupation of the city and the other in the 50s ... The historic background I liked since I kno ...more
CLM
Jan 08, 2010 CLM rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to CLM by: Anson
I knew little about this book before I began and started with the audio version, which grabbed me instantly, moving back and forth between 1950s Hong Kong and a quiet British woman Claire who has traveled east with a husband she barely knows and back ten years to Trudy Liang, a beautiful Eurasian captivating society as World War II reaches and devastates Hong Kong. Enigmatic Will Truesdale is the Englishman they both love, although perhaps Claire is just in love with her first opportunity to esc ...more
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Janice Lee was born in Hong Kong to Korean parents and lived there until she was fifteen, attending the international school. She then left for boarding school in New Hampshire, where she learned the true meaning of winter.

From there, she moved south to Cambridge, MA, where she spent four years at Harvard, developing a taste for excellent coffee, Au Bon Pain pastries, and staying up all night, so
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More about Janice Y.K. Lee...
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