The Piano Teacher – Janice Y.K. Lee

Jul 15

The Piano Teacher – Janice Y.K. Lee

This story by Janice Y.K. Lee is based in Hong Kong during World War II. I sincerely enjoyed parts of the tale, but it was sort of a disjointed mess. During the first third of the book, we meet the piano teacher, Claire. Claire has recently married someone (just because he asked) in England. The couple move to Hong Kong for his job. She is hired by the well-to-do Chen family to teach their daughter how to play piano. She repays them by chastising the child, stealing sundry baubles from around the home, and sleeping with the chauffeur. Also introduced during the first part of the book is Will. He is also English and newly arrived in Hong Kong. He falls passionately in love with Trudy, a beautiful society gal. The story of Will is told from 1941 forward; Claire’s story is from 1952 on. I actually liked the introduction of the characters. The final two-thirds of the book were a push for me. Instead of moving back and forth between the two tales, the author stays with Will for a long time, which was disconcerting. I did enjoy learning about Hong Kong and the culture during that part of World History, although some of the wartime atrocities were tough to read through. The loose ends were poorly wrapped up and ultra vague, and it was extremely hard to like a character that is a cheating kleptomaniac.

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