In 1941, Will Truesdale arrives in Hong Kong. He begins an affair with the glamorous Trudy Liang. Their relationship continues during the Japanese occupation of China during WWII. They both make decisions to try and survive and succeed during war that will leaving haunting consequences.
In 1952, Claire Pendelton arrives in Hong Kong with her new husband. They are practically strangers, both naive about marriage, love, and their new home. Claire takes a job teaching piano for the daughter of a well-to-do Chinese family. Here she meets Will Truesdale, and they begin an affair of their own. This strained relationship eventually leads to the revealing of Truesdale’s past during the occupation.
The Piano Teacher by Janice Y. K. Lee is a lovely little book! Will Truesdale is a enigmatic character, and is a great choice to anchor the two portions of the story. The chapters flip between the two time periods, slowly revealing pieces at a time. I enjoyed hearing about this portion of history; I have to be honest that I knew nothing about the Japanese occupation of China and the destruction it caused! But Lee does an excellent job avoiding judgement and allows the characters to interpret the time period on their own.
The strange thing about reading this was I was never pulled to pick up the book after I had put it down. I had to force myself to read it each new day. I say this is strange because once I began reading each day, I found it absorbing and beautiful. Overall, a well-done historical novel, and I am glad I read it and learned a little about a portion of history I was completely unaware of!
Thank you to my Aunt Janet for the book, complete with the author’s signature!