Julie Christine's Reviews > The Piano Teacher

The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee
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's review
Feb 04, 2010

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bookshelves: historical-fiction, east-asia-theme-or-setting, read-2011
Recommended to Julie Christine by: Tyra
Read from July 17 to 23, 2011

A setting and story (Hong Kong at the start of, during, and in the decade after World War II) with some potentially intriguing characters, but related with flat and uninspiring prose.

The historical detail is fascinating and what keeps this story rolling and the reader engaged. Hong Kong is the most vivid character in the novel. Lee maintains good tension in describing the months leading up to Japanese occupation and the horrors suffered by residents of the peninsula during the war. There is a compelling story of survival and betrayal, but the details become muddy and far-fetched as the intrigue deepens.

I found it hard to develop much empathy for the characters, who were left either undeveloped or turned into cartoons. Ms. Lee's prose is spare, but this style doesn't seem to fit a thriller based on passionate romance and brutal war.

A pleasantly distracting read, but one that left me wanting a meatier, more profound story.
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