The Piano Teacher

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.
The center of town then and still today. Business, commerce, society all converged here.
Mid Levels
Residential area just up from Central. Melody and Victor Liang lived here.
The Peak
Historically the abode of the British. Literally and symbolically the peak of Hong Kong living in large colonial houses with plentiful servants. Access through sedan chairs or, later, the funicular which still runs today.
Where the Japanese interned foreign nationals during the war. Brutal circumstances in a gorgeous seaside location which is the locale of a thriving marketplace today.
Excerpt from ‘The Piano Teacher’
It started as an accident. The small Herend rabbit had fallen into Claire’s purse. It had been on the piano and she had been gathering up the sheet music at the end of the lesson when she knocked it off. It fell off the doily (a doily! on the Steinway!) and into her large leather bag. What had happened after that was perplexing, even to her. Locket had been staring down at the keyboard and hadn’t noticed. And then, Claire had just . . . left. It wasn’t until she was downstairs and waiting for the bus that she grasped what she had done. And then it had been too late. She went home and buried the expensive porcelain figurine under her sweaters.

Press & Reviews

“Sleek, spare prose… Laced with intrigue.” —The New York Times Book Review, “Editor’s Choice”
“A shattering, immensely satisfying debut.” —People (4 stars)
“Riveting . . . This season’s Atonement.” —Elle
“Sensual and gripping.” —Good Housekeeping
“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
“War, love, betrayal—an exquisite fugue of a first novel . . . intensely readable.” —O, The Oprah Magazine
“Lee tells two engrossing love stories. . . . Just hide your phone before cracking this one open—or risk calling your ex.” —Marie Claire
“East meets West, and peace meets war, in a compelling debut novel.” –Body & Soul
“A compelling portrait of the devastating choices people make in order to survive.” —TimeOut New York
“Janice Y.K. Lee delivers a standout debut.” —The Boston Globe
“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