Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Piano Teacher

Whoops. With this month's book group meeting being held tomorrow it is apparent that this write up is past due.

Our last book was entitled The Piano Teacher.  It was written by Janice Y. K. Lee in 2008 and was a New York Times Bestseller. 

The gist of the story is that of Will, an Englishman, who arrives in Hong Kong as part of the growing and resented British occupation.  He has a passionate affair with a colorful party girl.  The Japanese invasion of Hong Kong in WW2 results in the upheaval of their universe.  He's imprisoned (detained) with the rest of the British citizens and her status on the outside enables him to move back and forth.

The story is also paralleled by Claire, who arrives in Hong Kong with her husband about 10 years later and she encounters Will who is now the driver for a prominent Hong Kong family.    The relationship between Will and the family are mysterious and it seems he has more influence than a driver should. 

We found the story to be somewhat convoluted, and some of the periphery characters were hard to follow.  Some of the major ploy twits were left to the imagination vs. giving the reader the proof needed to believe what was being implied.

Also, the two central love affairs seemed unrealistic and frankly we couldn't see the appeal. 

Another complaint was the title of the book.  The Piano Teacher bookends the story and she does play a role in the later story, but she is not the central character nor does her presence serve as the catalyst to set more dramatic events into action. 

Mostly, we felt the book was acceptable but not earth shattering.