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The Piano Teacher: A Novel Paperback – November 17, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
- Lee does a nice job describing the tumultuous Hong Kong social elite pre, post and during World War II. Her quiet, elegant descriptive prose is definitely her strength.
- The reader must respect Lee's decision to not use the standard linear timeline most novels use.
- The treatment of nationality is interesting as well, considering the time period (1940s and 1950s) in which the book is set. The upper class was undeniably hypocritical in their discriminations; everything boiled down to money and status.
- Will Truesdale's character has a lot of depth (he truly is the main character of the novel, despite the title). He is the most human out of all the characters; I found myself very sympathetic towards him throughout the novel.
What Rains on Lee's Parade
- Her desire to be mysterious is too obvious; the vague dialogue is often unrealistic. This obviousness is also a fault when Lee does decide to divulge vital information; these portions of the book do not flow well at all.
- The novel is entitled The Piano Teacher, yet it truly isn't about her. She is solely device to divulge information; I think the novel could have actually done more effectively without her. The attempt to view the local situation from an outsider's perspective ends up more of a hindrance upon the reader.
- Lee doesn't develop the relationships and characters enough, with the exception of Will. Granted some characters need to be flat to show the trivialness of the Hong Kong upper class, some of the characters should have been given more time.Read more ›
That said, I never could get fully engaged either with Claire's story or with Will and Trudy's. Although Claire would seem to be the more sympathetic of the three, none of the main characters were all that likeable. I tried with this book, I really did. But at my age there are too many other really good books out there to try. Librarian, author, and radio personality Nancy Pearl gave me permission to stop reading a book after 50 pages if it was, for want of a better word, boring. I even skimmed a bit farther into the book until I ended up skipping to the end. Thank you Nancy Pearl. You have saved me from many a worthless hour. Instead, I picked up another book with an Asian theme that also has a Hong Kong connection.
I am sorry to have to say I was not able to finish this book as it had all the hallmarks of a great read. So despite all the hoopla and the good reviews about The Piano Teacher, I can't, in all good conscience, recommend it.
The novel is about compromise and integrity in times of survival, and how the war brings out people's true personality. (This trite summary doesn't do the novel any justice, but the author excels at surprising the reader with little details and subplots that underline her point.) It is also about love, the love between Trudy and Will (the affair between Claire and Will 10 years later never comes across as more than a shallow pastime that will come to an end one way or another), and Will's gnawing regrets.
The point of view is third-person throughout, following Will in the 1940s and Claire in the 1950s. The author focuses on dialogue and richly textured descriptions of settings and clothes - it is very easy to become engrossed in the novel because of her vivid writing. She doesn't, however, spend much time convincing us Trudy (the Eurasian) and Will (the Englishman) are truly in love. Trudy comes across as an opportunist, and her personality seems too different from Will's for the relationship to last.
I was therefore very surprised when I reached the last few chapters of the book to read that they had truly been in love and that Will felt that he had failed Trudy.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Wish I could have cared more about the characters. Interesting to learn more about Hong Kong during WWII.Published 21 days ago by Marsha Flannery
An easy and enjoyable read set in a historical moment which provides insight into a not much mentioned angle. I always enjoy learning new historical facts.Published 1 month ago by M. Wilson
Wonderfully crafted book-- well written about a period of history in Hong Kong little talked aboutPublished 1 month ago by C.A. Wright
Very good story. One of the books I could not put down once you started reading it.Published 2 months ago by Ruth A. Binder
historical novel that took place in hong kong prior to & during the japanese occupation in 1942 & 10 years later again under colonial rule. Read morePublished 3 months ago by tseng
I like the history part of the novel but it is sad on the survival part of the story. Not a romantic novelPublished 4 months ago by VeryReal