Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Book Look Review "The Piano Teacher"

“The Piano Teacher”
It’s almost Valentines Day. You should get your sweetie pie a book! I was diligently scanning the love card section at the store and noticed lots of women searching for just the right card. And there’s not a man in sight. I’m not saying all men wait until February 14th and stop by the grocery store on the way home from work to quickly grab a card, swing down the candy aisle and finish at the checkout with flowers smelling faintly of the produce section…Oh, come on! At least steer your cart over to the book shelf (it’s that tiny dusty area by the magazines) and add something that will last more than one day.

“The Piano Teacher” by Janice Y. K. Lee is a popular new novel about love and war. She writes about a common theme placed in an uncommon time and location. I have mixed feelings about her work of historical fiction and can’t give it a whole-hearted (that was an irresistible link to the valentines theme) endorsement. The novel begins in the early 1950’s in Hong Kong. The piano teacher, Claire Pendleton arrives with her new husband from England. I found her to be a very weak and unlikable main character. So I chose Will Truesdale as my designated main character who was equally flawed but rose up on occasion to at least make a decision rather than just be swept along in a tide of apathy and despair. When these two begin an affair it seems they deserve each other in some pathetic way.

The author Lee flips us between the 1940’s as Hong Kong is occupied by the Japanese and Will was caught up in another affair with the beautiful Trudy Liang, and the 1950’s when he snares the newcomer Claire. There seems to be an authenticity to the story of the misery of war in Hong Kong and that is honestly the main thing that kept me reading. The most interesting plot hook is the mystery of the hidden Crown Collection and the dramatic answer revealed at one of the colony’s hypocritical society parties.

Gentlemen you can’t buy “The Piano Teacher” at the grocery store since it is too new. Go out today to a real book store and choose something she might enjoy with her lovely card, flowers and candy. I am also not sure that this would be the right book for her unless she reads a lot and is tolerant of the infidelity theme. Maybe not the valentine’s message you want to send. If you need serious help selecting just the right book for your honey, you can contact me and I will try to give you some safer and happier reading suggestions.

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