Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Piano Teacher by Janice Y. K. Lee

It's not easy to find a novel or literature that focuses on the Asian countries experience during World War II. The author, Janice Lee, alternates between two betrayal stories in this book attempting to provide some insights into conditions in Hong Kong prior to, during, and after World War II.

The book starts out in 1952 as we are introduced to Claire Pendleton, a British young woman newlywed, recently relocated to Hong Kong with her husband. She takes a position as a piano teacher for the young daughter of a wealthy Chinese family, the Chen family. When the Chen family invites Claire and her husband Martin to a party, she meets and begins an affair with Will Truesdale, the Chen chauffer and a long-time British expatriate.

Then the reader is taken back to 1941 for a love affair between Will and Trudy. Trudy is a spoliled Eurasian who has a numerous connections with the Hong Kong community. When WWII strikes Hong Kong, Will ends up in a POW camp, and Trudy forms alliances with the Japanese Army in order to keep him alive and as safe as possible.

Between the stories Janice Y.K. Lee shows us how the Japanese mostly interrupt the lives of those living in Hong Kong during WWII.