"Love is like playing the piano. First...play by the rules...then...by the heart." Unknown source
The story begins in 1952. Claire Pendleton is newly married. She arrives in Hong Kong with her husband, Martin. Claire admits that she doesn't love her husband but got married to get away from home and away from her complaining mother.
Bored and in need of additional income, Claire gets a job teaching piano to the daughter of the wealthy Victor and Melody Chen. After one lesson, a trinket from the Chens falls into Claire's purse. When it's not noticed, she begins a period of petty thievery which ultimately results in the Chens firing their servant for the thefts.
The story flashes back to 1941, the period before the war and centers on Trudy Liang, a Eurasian, and Will Truesdale, an Englishman new to Hong Kong. They begin an affair and Will moves through Hong Kong society as the war approaches.
Back in 1952, Claire meets Will and they begin seeing more of each other, eventually starting an affair. At the time, Claire was age twenty-eight and Will was age forty-three.
One day, Claire and her husband are at the beach. Claire is wearing a scarf that she stole from the Chens. Unexpectidly, they run into the Chens. Melody tells her that she has a scarf just like the one Claire is wearing. Claire wonders if Melody figured out that she stole it.
Events move slowly. The Japanese take over Hong Kong and people do what they must to survive. Some people even do things that they must hide when the war finally ends.
Calire and Will continue their affair and then she learns something about his actions in the war. She must decide how this revelation will change their relationship.
The author is asking how much will love forgive.
The story was an interesting look back at the two moments in history but the characters were unappealing. Nevertheless, the author is a talented writer and the novel was a nice diversion.
I picked up this book because it had the word "Piano" in the title. I assumed from the cover it would be a story about a love affair between two people. I did not expect all of the gore and violence. I loved the characters, especially Will. Some of the characters seemed very stereotypical, like Melody and Claire while some, like Dominick, seemed underdeveloped. I wished to read more about Trudy and Will's story than of Claire's, although I did enjoy Claire's presence in the book. Her intrusion started the unwinding of the plot, although that unwinding in my opinion was a little forced. This book can be confusing, once I got about 1/2 way through the book, I began to understand it. The last part of the book is difficult to follow, the author speaks in a way that is sometimes pompous. It is as if we are not supposed to understand the message. However, after rereading parts of the book out loud a few times, I did understand the story and enjoyed the book very much. I believe this is one book you have to read a few times in order to appreciate it. I loved it the historical aspect and gained a new respect for Chinese history during the 40s and 50s.
Set in Hong Kong, this story alternates between the time of the WW II Japanese invasion and ten years later, after the war is over. I found the interchanging of time periods quite fascinating. Starting in 1952, you meet Claire, a niave young English woman, who comes to Hong Kong with her new husband and is hired by the influential Chen family as their daughter's pianoteacher. You find out some of Claire's unique characteristics before the story switches to eleven years earlier. That's when you meet Will, recently arrived from England and his soon to be lover, the highly sought after Trudy, a delightful Eurasian woman, full of life and fun! As the story progresses within the rich culture of Hong Kong, the war looms, the war happens, and all kinds of events affect the characters and their relationships. I had to keep reading! I loved the book!
I didn't know much about Hong Kong during World War II, so this part of the book was interesting to me. But I couldn't understand why the author kept switching from past tense to present tense, because it wasn't consistent and it drew my attention away from the story and its characters.
Lee seems to be better at plot than characters - I thought the storyline was pretty good and, although it dragged a little in the middle, Lee tied up the details well. SPOILER ALERT - I would say that Locket's lineage was pretty easy to figure out.
Her characters were a little stereotypical, particularly Trudy. We have all read books with a character like her mixed into the plot. And at times I felt like I was reading Gone With The Wind goes to Hong Kong!
I was disappointed that the initial storyline of Claire stealing from the Chens never developed. That was one of the more interesting traits of Claire's character, who, like some of the other characters, were a little flat.
Overall, however, I'd say it was a good, casual read.
In the sweeping tradition of The English Patient, a gripping tale of love and betrayal set in war-torn Hong Kong
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 as World War II overwhelms their part of the world. Will is sent to an internment camp, where he and other foreigners struggle daily for survival. Meanwhile, Trudy remains outside, forced to form dangerous alliances with the Japanese?in particular, the malevolent head of the gendarmerie, whose desperate attempts to locate a priceless collection of Chinese art lead to a chain of terrible betrayals.
Ten years later, Claire Pendleton comes to Hong Kong and is hired by the wealthy Chen family as their daughter?s pianoteacher. A provincial English newlywed, Claire is seduced by the heady social life of the expatriate community. At one of its elegant cocktail parties, she meets Will, to whom she is instantly attracted?but as their affair intensifies, Claire discovers that Will?s enigmatic persona hides a devastating past. As she begins to understand the true nature of the world she has entered, and long-buried secrets start to emerge, Claire learns that sometimes the price of survival is love.