What is it about the allure of bookstores? It’s like Target where you go in for one thing and walk out with a stack of ‘essentials’ and down easily $100. Of course, being a recession, I don’t go into bookstores as often as in the past and I have limited myself as I’m the Highlander and there can be only one!
I was tearing myself from table to table reading book jackets and skimming first pages to decide. As my stack grew, the books battled each other until I came across Janice Y. K. Lee’s The Piano Teacher. Game. Set. Match. Highlander decimates the rest in one swing of a sword (aka the word Eurasian.) I had meant to read this book for a year.
When Will Truesdale first appears in the small social circle of Hong Kong, Trudy Liang an effervescent socialite claims him. Trudy is half Portuguese and half Chinese. Trudy is so vividly described she swept me under her spell as she did Will. She reminded me so much of my dear friend Jamie I thought Ms. Lee must know her and taken notes. It added another layer to the story that is already glamorous, captivating and riveting on its own.
The Piano Teacher set in Hong Kong in two eras with the Japanese invasion and then a decade later its reprecussions and how they have effected those who survived it. As the ‘how’ the characters survived the war unfolds, there is a cinematic feel as each intrigue takes place. Although I’ve never been to Hong Kong in my extensive travels, I could see the color of the ocean the prison faced.
It was fascinating to read the opinions of those who were friends with that outlandish, colorful Eurasian femme fatal when it was fashionable and then showed their true feelings in the war. Unfortunate that Eurasians never fit into one world or another. I have sometimes felt that way– not Asian enough for the Chinese, not white enough for the Irish side.
Ten years after the war we meet Claire Pendleton, a yet-to-bloom English rose, hired as a Piano Teacher for a prominent Chinese family The Chens. Will is their driver. There are mysteries to unlock and all the while you are falling in love with the jet set and wondering how fast you can book your ticket to Hong Kong but unable to put this book down late into the night just to know what happens next.
It will take a lot to knock my Highlander choice from the spot it now holds in my head and heart. If you like historical novels The Piano Teacher is a must read.
p.s. just for fun a little Corey Hart ‘Eurasian Eyes’ – audio isn’t the greatest on the video. Watch the second one for better audio, but not the original video.