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The Piano Teacher Hardcover – 5 Feb 2009

3.5 out of 5 stars 137 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: HarperPress; First Edition; 1st printing. edition (5 Feb. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007286198
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007286195
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 3.2 x 23.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (137 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,050,928 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

RQNA








"Riveting . . . This season's "Atonement.""
"Elle"
"Laced with intrigue."
"The New York Times Book Review," Editor s Choice
"Evocative, poignant, and skillfully 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. . . . If we measure the skill of a fiction writer by her ability to create characters and atmosphere so effortlessly real, so alive on the page, that the reader feels a sense of participatory anxiety as if the act of reading gives one the power to somehow influence the outcome of purely imaginary events then Lee should be counted among the very best in recent memory."
"Chicago Tribune"
"A shattering, immensely satisfying debut."
"People "(4 stars)
"War, love, betrayal an exquisite fugue of a first novel . . . intensely readable."
"O," The Oprah Magazine
"Lee unfolds the story with the brisk grace and discretion of the society she describes."
"The New Yorker"
"Sensual and gripping."
"Good Housekeeping"
Janice Lee delivers a standout debut.
"The Boston Globe"
"The novel is sustained by elegant prose and a terrific sense of place. As Graham Greene evoked Vietnam in "The Quiet American," Lee, born and raised in Hong Kong long after the war, captures the city as it was during World War II, its glittering veneer barely masking the panic and corruption beneath."
"The Miami Herald"
A compelling portrait of the devastating choices people make in order to survive.
"TimeOut New York"
"Lee tells two engrossing love stories. . . . Just hide your phone before cracking this one open or risk calling your ex."
"Marie Claire"
""
"Lee delivers a standout debut [with] layers of intrigue and more than a few unexpected twists."
"Publishers Weekly" (starred review)
"A lush examination of East-West relations."
"Kirkus Reviews"
""
Lee has created the sort of interesting, complex characters, especially in Trudy, that drive a rich and intimate look at what happens to people under extraordinary circumstances.
"Booklist"
"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 in your very own skin."
Elizabeth Gilbert
"One of the most insightful, elegant, and atmospheric novels I ve read in a long time. Janice Lee is nothing short of brilliant and her novel is impossible to put down."
Gary Shteyngart
"Rarely does one encounter a debut work as beguiling and assured as Janice Lee s "The Piano Teacher." Rich with intrigue, romance, and betrayal, this wonderfully written, utterly captivating novel dazzles with its sharp-eyed renderings of beau monde Hong Kong as it is plunged into the crucible of war. With its fascinating interplay of East and West and wide cast of effervescent characters . . . this is a truly transporting and indeed irresistible work of fiction."
Chang-Rae Lee
Compelling . . . A persuasive re-creation of a time and place.
Penelope Lively"

"Riveting . . . This season's Atonement."
Elle
"Laced with intrigue."
The New York Times Book Review, Editor s Choice
"Evocative, poignant, and skillfully 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. . . . If we measure the skill of a fiction writer by her ability to create characters and atmosphere so effortlessly real, so alive on the page, that the reader feels a sense of participatory anxiety as if the act of reading gives one the power to somehow influence the outcome of purely imaginary events then Lee should be counted among the very best in recent memory."
Chicago Tribune
"A shattering, immensely satisfying debut."
People (4 stars)
"War, love, betrayal an exquisite fugue of a first novel . . . intensely readable."
O, The Oprah Magazine
"Lee unfolds the story with the brisk grace and discretion of the society she describes."
The New Yorker
"Sensual and gripping."
Good Housekeeping
Janice Lee delivers a standout debut.
The Boston Globe
"The novel is sustained by elegant prose and a terrific sense of place. As Graham Greene evoked Vietnam in The Quiet American, Lee, born and raised in Hong Kong long after the war, captures the city as it was during World War II, its glittering veneer barely masking the panic and corruption beneath."
The Miami Herald
A compelling portrait of the devastating choices people make in order to survive.
TimeOut New York
"Lee tells two engrossing love stories. . . . Just hide your phone before cracking this one open or risk calling your ex."
Marie Claire

"Lee delivers a standout debut [with] layers of intrigue and more than a few unexpected twists."
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"A lush examination of East-West relations."
Kirkus Reviews

Lee has created the sort of interesting, complex characters, especially in Trudy, that drive a rich and intimate look at what happens to people under extraordinary circumstances.
Booklist
"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 in your very own skin."
Elizabeth Gilbert
"One of the most insightful, elegant, and atmospheric novels I ve read in a long time. Janice Lee is nothing short of brilliant and her novel is impossible to put down."
Gary Shteyngart
"Rarely does one encounter a debut work as beguiling and assured as Janice Lee s The Piano Teacher. Rich with intrigue, romance, and betrayal, this wonderfully written, utterly captivating novel dazzles with its sharp-eyed renderings of beau monde Hong Kong as it is plunged into the crucible of war. With its fascinating interplay of East and West and wide cast of effervescent characters . . . this is a truly transporting and indeed irresistible work of fiction."
Chang-Rae Lee
Compelling . . . A persuasive re-creation of a time and place.
Penelope Lively" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

'[An] impressive debut, which explores the moral ambiguities of war, culture, race and romantic love.'

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Janice Lee's portrayal of wartime and post war Hong Kong is a compelling story of love, war and betrayal. Claire, the piano teacher of the title, arrives in Hong Kong in 1952 with her new husband Martin, and quickly becomes involved with the expat community. Some of the people she meets have survived the wartime occupation of Hong Kong by the Japanese and Claire begins an affair with the mysterious Will. As the book evolves, Claire finds out more about Will's background and the tragic events which took place during the occupation.

Lee does not shrink from describing the harsh realities of life under occupation and the brutality visited upon both native Chinese and foreign nationals alike. Hong Kong's experience is often forgotten but in the timescale she has used in this novel it is still a fairly raw and recent memory. One of the interesting sides to the book is the way in which so many of the characters reached various sorts of compromise in order to survive and it makes one wonder what one would do in similar circumstances.

A very moving and thought-provoking account which will no doubt appeal to many readers who are interested in the human condition and the way people react under pressure.
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By D. Elliott TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 28 Jan. 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
For a story embracing war, compromise, survival and guilt there are many characters in `The Piano Teacher' but the leading man and his two heroines dominate. They are interesting and intriguing and become totally credible within the turn of events described. `The Piano Teacher' is a love story and a historical novel, covering two main periods (1941-42 and 1952-53) skilfully interwoven plus some forward and backward glances. Author Janice Lee deals sympathetically with relationships and choices, and she steers and manipulates with incisive commentaries by the hero and heroines on each other, on additional individuals, on social groups, and on nations and nationalities. Their musing and philosophising is piercing and perceptive, and the reader is unlikely to predict outcomes.

Set in Hong Kong `The Piano Teacher' is clearly well researched and the author has in-depth knowledge of Hong Kong as a place and of its people together with cognisance of the influence of `Empire' before the Japanese invasion, internment, and the `ex-pat' situation after the Second World War. She finds easy ways of defining characters, detailing circumstances, describing scenes and discussing cultures without use of fancy or florid language. The narrative flows well and varies in tempo as appropriate to issues of love and lust, loyalty and betrayal, crime and corruption, and many more emotions and traumas. There are surprises throughout, and though the final pages reveal the unexpected, the somewhat loose ending deliberately leaves the reader thinking and wondering. I deliberately refrain from producing a précis or exposing the plot - read the novel.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I've just finished the pre-publication version of this book. I was rather wary - love story - but I have to say that I couldn't put this down. It's a romance without the dirty bits, a war story without the gruesome bits, an "Empire" story without the heavy historic bits and quite believable throughout. Set in Hong Kong before, during and just after the Japanese Occupation, the tale deals with one mans infatuation with a Eurasian woman and, subsequently, his involvement with a rather sheltered, recently married Englishwoman recently arrived (The piano teacher). An engaging, well written and pleasing book that has sufficient detail to believe that the story is real without getting bogged down in pages of detail just to make the Author feel more self important.
The writer, new to me, has worked hard on the background material but, most of all, has found a remarkably good writing style that takes the reader along at a pleasant pace. I'm really impressed and hope that she can set to writing some more (and soon please). A worthwhile and very enjoyable book. I defy anyone who buys it not to be tempted to carry on for "just one more chapter" well after bedtime!
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Format: Paperback
Set in Hong Kong in the years leading up to and including the second world war, with an interspersed narrative set about ten years later, this book explores issues of nationality, patriotism, loyalty, integrity and love. Organised ostensibly around two very different women's relationships with the rather enigmatic Will Truesdale it confronts all kinds of moral dilemmas but in a way that is integrated in and central to the story, rather than as something tacked on.

Trudy Liang is half-Chinese and half-Portugese, beautiful, vivid and apparently shallow. But her frivolity hides a deeper understanding about her own true nature as well as her place within Hong Kong society. Neither Chinese nor European she is both on the margins and yet also at the centre of a lush and expensive society. The Japanese invasion of Hong Kong forces her to choose between her dual cultures and confront who she truly is and what that might mean in a time when social niceties are stripped, by war, back to the bone.

The alternating narrative is about Claire Pendleton, a very different Englishwoman and the piano teacher of the title. Repressed, conventional, self-effacing, her experience of Hong Kong and her encounters with Will and the story of Trudy force her to also make some decisions that change the course of her life (but not in an operatic kind of way).

The chapters about the invasion are really well done, focusing on the minutiae of civilian life under invasion and occupation. Also the story of the internment camps felt fresh and new not as if the author were simply re-writing Tenko or A Town like Alice.

So overall this book surprised me, always a pleasant thing: well-written, thoughtful, intelligent and compelling. There are some flaws: the character of Will doesn't quite hang together, and the sub-plot about the Crown treasures seemed forced. But these are small quibbles and don't spoil the overall book. Recommended.
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