Sunday, 1 May 2011

Review The Piano Teacher : Janice Y K Lee

Once again, I find myself apologising for the tardiness of my latest post. All these Bank Holidays for Easter and the Royal Nuptials have completely thrown out my blogging schedule. They have however given me lots more reading time which is always a good thing and so I have a bit of review catching up to do.

It is my intention to blog much more frequently from now on as I am no longer working and will have more spare time. I just hope that I can produce enough interesting content to entice my followers to read it!

 A couple of weeks ago, I promised a review of The Piano Teacher by Janice Y K Lee and so here it is.

The book is set during two time periods- 1940's and 1950's Hong Kong. It begins in the 1950's and introduces us to Claire Pendleton, a young newlywed who has moved to Hong Kong with her much older husband, Martin. To help pass the time, Claire takes a position as a piano teacher to Locket, daughter of the wealthy Chinese family the Chens. Through them she meets Englishman Will Truesdale, and they begin an affair.

The story continues by moving back in time to Hong Kong, 1941 where we are properly introduced to Will and where we find out about his love for Trudy, a beautiful Eurasian woman and the consequences of this passion.

The Piano Teacher had been on my TBR pile for some time. It was recommended as being in a similar vein to the excellent Shanghai Girls by Lisa See and so I had high hopes that I would find it an excellent read.

However, to begin with, I was a little disappointed as I found the story to be too slow paced. Also when moving between the two time periods, the writing tense changed and at first this irritated me as I found it affected the flow of my reading.

Stubbornly, I persevered and am glad that I did. Looking at WWII from an Eastern perspective introduced me to facts about the war that I was unaware of. Lee's descriptions of life in a prisoner of war camp were detailed enough to give me a sense of the horrendous conditions and suffering of the prisoners without being overly graphic.
Her characters, particularly Will and Trudy, were complex and interesting and helped me to finish the book as I wanted to know what happened to them.
Other than the (in my view unnecessary) tense changes, I found I enjoyed Lee's style of writing and would be tempted to read any of her future novels.

I was a little disappointed with the ending as I seem to be with many of the books that I have read just lately, but overall I enjoyed it. In my own mind I rate a book as being either one that I loved and would definitely read again (10/10) down to one that I hated and didn't bother to finish (0/10) and  would give The Piano Teacher 7/10.

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