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 piano teacher. 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.
©2009 Janice Y.K. Lee (P)2009 Penguin
I'm dismayed to see such vicious reviews about this book and its audio production. Although I've been an audible.com member for over 5 years, this is the first time I've been moved to write a review - for good or ill. And before getting started, I thought I'd read the two reviews before me. Is it possible they listened to the same book????
I found this story to be completely engrossing, with such richly drawn characters and an introduction to a world I knew nothing about. I was captured completely, pretty much to the exclusion of everything else going on in my life. (Thankfully it's the holidays so nothing much is being expected of me right now.)
And the narrator, I thought, was absolutely amazing. Her acting is nuanced and insightful. Her variety of accents was perfect. And I actually will seek out books she's narrated. Please keep using her!
I really don't know what my two predecessor reviewers were talking about. I thought it was terrific.
"The Piano Teacher," which is less about the title character, than it is about several other
characters is a shallow, but fairly interesting tale of life in Hong Kong before WWII, during the Japanese occupation, and for about a decade thereafter. It had great possibilities, but ultimately disappointed. The main characters were unoriginal and recognizable from any number of old grade B movies, and in other geographical settings, from soap operas that endlessly repeat hackneyed recognizable character themes. You'll find an amazingly handsome English expat hero, a naive teacher who has an adulteress affair with him, her hapless, but good, husband, and several very rich, reprehensible people who cause endless problems for others, but whose exotic backgrounds and lavish lives provide escapist interest. The plot moves forward with enough momentum to have kept me listening, but fell short of any satisfying conclusion. The historical situs of the novel is a fascinating chapter in history, but the author has only a superficial grasp of it, but still, enough to make it sound authentic. A much better book about the same period is "Hiroshima Joe: A Novel," by Martin Booth. "The Piano Teacher," while not exactly a waste of time, could be easily replaced by time better spent. As for the narrator, I felt neutral about her: she didn't add to, nor detract from, the listening experience.
This story seemed rather pointless. We're we supposed to care about anyone in this narrative ? The prose is fine but the story and characters are dull. Good narration.
The reader was terrible and for me made it hard to enjoy the book. Her enunciation was fine, but she showed no understanding of nuance or what word in a sentence should be emphasized. In fact, when given a choice, she invariably emphasized wthe wrong word. She can read, but has no understanding of conveying meaning. Please don't use her again.
I ordered this book without reading the reviews because it is this month's selection for one of my book clubs. After listening for a few hours and thinking what a great choice it was and how glad I was I ordered the audible version I went back to the review page to see what others had said - I was shocked to see a number of listeners had the exact opposite response! I consider this to be one of the best audio books I've listened to this year. The story was intriguing and gave a detailed glimpse into life in Hong Kong, before WW II, during and after.
Hong Kong is a place I know nothing about, I'm sorry to confess, so I can only assume the picture Ms. Lee paints is accurate. The characters were complex and the story emerges at just the right pace, mixing an unusual romance, well two romances actually, with the horrors of life under the Japanese occupation.
The narration was exquisite - once again my impression of the reading was the exact opposite of the negative comments - I found the various accents believable and natural sounding, Ms. Cassidy has a lovely voice - a couple of times I would have emphasized a different word in a sentence but that is quite common in an audio book and certainly forgivable. I only mention it here because someone complained as if it was frequent in this book and I honestly only noticed it twice.
I sat and knitted for hours listening to The Piano Teacher and was sorry to have it end. Take a chance and get it if you have a credit to spend - I think you will like it and if you don't, there is always the Audible guarantee.
I saw the reviews that criticized the flat characters and so forth. Take what you may from that but if you can move past that type of thing, you will find yourself transported to a time, place and circumstances in the way books should do for you. This book to me was a story about regret, choosing between the lesser of two evils, during a time living under hostile occupation of the Japanese Imperial Army. It was an awful time for everyone living in Hong Kong and all were reduced to a pathetic versions of themselves. People did what they had to to survive and that definition was different for each person. Some died, others flourished and some survived with enormous burdens of regret, survivors guilt, even amusement at having survived relatively unscarred. Still some are just left haunted by the awful choices they made.
This is the most shallow one hour to which I have ever listened.
"The English Patient"? What are they thinking...
I listened to Expatriates first because it was recommended to me and I loved it and I was so excited to discover this. The fake British accent was a little annoying but the narrator did a great job over all! The story was really captivating.
Probably not, unless I was in the mood for something light
Honestly I was bored with the ending, and felt the author did not wrap up the mystery of Will's life in an explicit enough way
I have not listened to any other of her performances, but I thought she was fantastic with the accents!
This is a perfectly decent book. It is good for an easy read/listen, but if you are looking for something that is deeper and has a complex plot with complex intriguing characters, this is not the book for you.
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