Ambitious, exotic, and a classic book club read, ‘The Piano Teacher’ is a combination of ‘Tenko’ meets ‘The Remains of the Day’.
Sometimes the end of a love affair is only the beginning…
In 1942, Will Truesdale, an Englishman newly arrived in Hong Kong, falls headlong into a passionate relationship with Trudy Liang, a beautiful Eurasian socialite. But their love affair is soon threatened by the invasion of the Japanese, with terrible consequences for both of them, and for members of their fragile community who will betray each other in the darkest days of the war.
Ten years later, Claire Pendleton lands in Hong Kong and is hired by the wealthy Chen family as their daughter’s piano teacher. A provincial English newlywed, Claire is seduced by the colony’s heady social life. She soon begins an affair…only to discover that her lover’s enigmatic demeanour hides a devastating past.
As the threads of this compelling and engrossing novel intertwine and converge, a landscape of impossible choices emerges – between love and safety, courage and survival, the present and above all, the past.
Reviews of The Piano Teacher
- ‘Two love stories lie at the centre of this impressive debut, which explores the moral ambiguities of war, culture, race and romantic love. Intriguing, sad, rivetingly detailed’ Elizabeth Buchan, Daily Mail
- ‘[A] lovely novel – it has an old-fashioned solidity and craftsmanship and effortlessly recreates the atmosphere of post-war Hong Kong’ Kate Saunders, The Times
- ‘This is a rare and exquisite story. It does exactly what a great novel should do – transports you out of time, out of place, into a world you can feel on your very skin’ Elizabeth Gilbert, author of ‘Eat, Pray, Love’
- ‘This season’s “Atonement”…a first-class steamer ticket to a disappearing Hong Kong’ Elle Magazine
- ‘This cinematic tale of two love affairs in mid-century Hong Kong shows colonial pretensions tainted by wartime truths…Lee unfolds each story, and flits between them, with the brisk grace and discretion of the society she describes’ New Yorker
- ‘Laced with intrigue…Readers will be enthralled by Lee’s depiction of Will’s relationships with his two lovers…and the unsparing way Lee unravels them’ New York Times
- ‘War. Love. Betrayal. The harsh lessons of history. These are big subjects for any veteran writer, and yet, in her first novel, Janice Y.K. Lee confronts them admirably’ Washington Post
- ‘Evocative, poignant and skilfully crafted, “The Piano Teacher” is more than an epic tale of war and a tangled, tortured love story. It is the kind of novel one consumes in great, greedy gulps, pausing (grudgingly) only when absolutely necessary’ Chicago Tribune