THE PIANO TEACHER

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Janice Y. K. Lee

Set in Hong Kong during the outbreak of World War II, and its aftermath ten years later, The Piano Teacher alternates between the lives of two vastly different women whose destinies are linked by the events of the war. In 1952, Claire is a provincial newlywed from England, recently arrived in the flourishing colony of Hong Kong. She is hired by the Chens, a wealthy Chinese couple, to give their daughter piano lessons. She soon becomes involved with Will Truesdale, an enigmatic expatriate whose visible and emotional injuries raise questions about his past. Through the Chens and her new love,

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Set in Hong Kong during the outbreak of World War II, and its aftermath ten years later, The Piano Teacher alternates between the lives of two vastly different women whose destinies are linked by the events of the war. In 1952, Claire is a provincial newlywed from England, recently arrived in the flourishing colony of Hong Kong. She is hired by the Chens, a wealthy Chinese couple, to give their daughter piano lessons. She soon becomes involved with Will Truesdale, an enigmatic expatriate whose visible and emotional injuries raise questions about his past. Through the Chens and her new love, she discovers a world of colonial decadence that is shadowed by the recent events of the war.

In 1941, Trudy Liang is a wealthy Eurasian society belle, who finds a kind of salvation in a newly arrived Englishman. For Trudy and others who do not have true homelands, the impending conflict with the Japanese will test the limits of loyalty, identity and passion. And as the brutalities of war take their toll on the vulnerable and the brave, each player will learn the price of survival, even at the cost of love.

Braced with authentic, sensual detail and keen observations about a forgotten social order, this assured novel evokes the romantic drama of Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient, the colonial drama of E.M. Forster, and W. Somerset Maugham. The Piano Teacher is a remarkable debut by a wonderfully gifted writer, and a powerful tale that is guaranteed to sweep readers off their feet.

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About Janice Y. K. Lee

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Praise

Janice Y. K. Lee was born and raised in Hong Kong and went to boarding school in the United States before attending Harvard College. She is a former features editor at Elle and Mirabella magazines in New York. The Piano Teacher is her first book.

Discussion Questions

The Piano Teacher is laced with intrigue…Readers will be enthralled by Lee’s depiction of Will’s relationships with his two lovers—’Claire, with her blond and familiar femininity, English rose to Trudy’s exotic scorpion’ – and the unsparing way Lee unravels them.”—New York Times Book Review

“Lee delivers a standout debut….The rippling of past actions through to the present lends the narrative layers of intrigue and more than a few unexpected twists. Lee covers a little- known time in Chinese history without melodrama, and deconstructs without judgment the choices people make in order to live one more day under torturous circumstances.”—Publishers Weekly

“War, love, betrayal – an exquisite fugue of a first novel…Intensely readable…”
O, The Oprah Magazine

“Lee is at her best when describing the horrors of the blood-soaked occupation. She paints a compelling portrait of the devastating choices people make in order to survive…”
Time Out New York