The Piano Teacher (Paperback)

By Janice Y. K. Lee

Penguin Books, 9780143116530, 368pp.

Publication Date: November 17, 2009

January 2009 Indie Next List

“Janice Y.K. Lee makes a powerful entry into the literary world with this lush, intriguing novel of Hong Kong on the edge of World War II and, then, its aftermath. Creating characters as exotic and mysterious as the story's locale, she portrays a society that was lost, a facade that eventually brought horrific costs to most of its members.”
— Bill Cusumano, Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, MI
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Description

"A rare and exquisite story . . . Transports you out of time, out of place, into a world you can feel on your very skin." --Elizabeth Gilbert

Janice Y.K. Lee's latest novel, The Expatriates, is now available from Penguin

The New York Times bestseller

In the sweeping tradition of The English Patient, Janice Y.K. Lee's debut novel is a tale of love and betrayal set in war-torn Hong Kong. In 1942, Englishman Will Truesdale falls headlong into a passionate relationship with Trudy Liang, a beautiful Eurasian socialite. But their affair is soon threatened by the invasion of the Japanese as World War II overwhelms their part of the world. Ten years later, Claire Pendleton comes to Hong Kong to work as a piano teacher and also begins a fateful affair. As the threads of this spellbinding novel intertwine, impossible choices emerge-between love and safety, courage and survival, the present, and above all, the past.


About the Author

Janice Y. K. Lee was born and raised in Hong Kong and graduated from Harvard College. A former features editor at Elle and Mirabella magazines, she currently lives in Hong Kong with her husband and children.


Praise For The Piano Teacher



Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com

  1. Why does Claire steal from the Chens? Why does she stop doing it?
  2. Part of Claire's attraction to Will is that he allows her to be someone different than she had always been. Have you ever been drawn to a person or a situation because it offered you the opportunity to reinvent yourself?
  3. The amahs are a steady but silent presence throughout the book. Imagine Trudy and Will's relationship and then Claire and Will's affair from their point of view and discuss
  4. Trudy was initially drawn to Will because of his quiet equanimity and Will to Claire because of her innocence. Yet those are precisely the qualities each loses in the course of their love affairs. What does this say about the nature of these relationships? Would Will have been attracted to a woman like Claire before Trudy?
  5. What is the irony behind Claire's adoration of the young Princess Elizabeth?
  6. Were Dominick and Trudy guilty of collaboration, or were they simply trying to survive? Do their circumstances absolve them of their actions?
  7. Mary, Tobias's mother, and one of Will's fellow prisoners in Stanley, does not take advantage of her job in the kitchen to steal more food for her son. Yet she prostitutes herself to preserve him. Is Tobias's physical survival worth the psychological damage she's inflicting?
  8. Did Trudy give her emerald ring and Locket to Melody? How much did Melody really know?
  9. How do Ned Young's experiences parallel Trudy's?
  10. Did Will fail Trudy? Was his decision to remain in Stanley rather than be with her on the outside—as he believes—an act of cowardice?
  11. Would Locket be better off knowing the truth about her parentage?
  12. What would happen if Trudy somehow survived and came back to Will? Could they find happiness together?
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