Dorothy's Reviews > The Piano Teacher

The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee
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Mar 22, 09


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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, Trudy Liang, who flaunts her body and her wealth around like snowflake...more 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, Trudy Liang, who flaunts her body and her wealth around like snowflakes in a blizzard. Together they wend their way in and around the social scene in that halycon harbor.
Pearl Harbor, the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong, and the containment of civilians who are not Chinese causes a rift in the mentioned characters relationship. Trudy, who is part Chinese and part POrtugese, becomes a girl toy of Otsubo, a high ranking gendarme in the Japanese army while simultaneously maintaining a liaison with Will.
You guessed it! Trudy is a pawn in the hands of the Japanese who think that Will can lead them to the whereabouts of the valuable Crown Collection. In an effort to obtain the information, she is allowed to "entertain" Will during weekend passes from Stanley, the containment facility, while at the same time continue to "please" Otsubo.
Where does the piano teacher fit into all of this? She doesn't until ten years later. The war is over, Will has been released, and Hong Kong has been liberated.
Will is now working as a chaffeur for the Chen's, a wealthy Chinese family who coincidentally have a ten year old daughter named, Locket. As fate would have it Claire Pendleton, the wife of a Water Works inspector, becomes the child'd piano teacher. Will and Claire meet, have a steamy affair which draws the teacher into a mysterious network that binds those characters who have a knowledge of the Crown Collection's whereabouts and those who wish to find it.
My poor evaluation of the novel is based on what can be summed up as a tale about arrogant, rich people who spend their time, money, and influence on gossip, tea parties, betraying one another and, of course, sex.
Perhaps Y. K. Lee is right, This is what the world is really about. I just wish that she could have focused her work more on what was in the Crown Collection that made it so valuable and less on Will's dalliances with Claire and Trudy.

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Allison Read "The Gift of Rain" a much more satisfying novel that deals with the same topic--Japanese occupation during WWII. It was a 5 star novel for me and my book club friends call me a stingy book rater!


Rachielle I agree. Waste of time... Gave a good effort until page 232 and I gave up.


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