Saturday, December 5, 2009

THE PIANO TEACHER: REVIEW AND GIVEAWAY

GIVEAWAY ENDED
THE PIANO TEACHER

BY JANICE Y.K. LEE


ABOUT THE BOOK:

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, with terrible consequences for both of them, and for members of their fragile community who will betray each other in the darkest days of the war.

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 colony’s heady social life. She soon begins an affair, only to discover that her lover’s enigmatic demeanor hides a devastating past.

As the threads of this spellbinding novel intertwine and converge, a landscape of impossible choices emerges—between love and safety, courage and survival, the present and, above all, the past.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Janice Lee was born in Hong Kong to Korean parents and lived there until she was fifteen, attending the international school. She then left for boarding school in New Hampshire, where she learned the true meaning of winter.

From there, she moved south to Cambridge, MA, where she spent four years at Harvard, developing a taste for excellent coffee, Au Bon Pain pastries, and staying up all night, sometimes indulging in all three at the same time. She also pleased her parents by meeting, on the very first day of school, the man who would become her husband.

After graduating with a degree in English and American Literature and Language, she relocated down to New York where she got her first post-college job fetching coffee as an assistant to the beauty editor at Elle magazine. After a few months booking massages learning about the cosmetics industry, she heard about a job in the features section and was able to switch departments and return to her true roots, being happily inundated with books on a daily basis.

She then moved to Mirabella magazine where she did more of the same. As much as she enjoyed her job, she eventually came to realize that if she stayed on this career track, she would have no time to write her own book, something that had been a goal of hers since elementary school. Taking a deep breath, she quit to freelance, think about writing, and eventually ended up at the Hunter College MFA Program, which at the time was headed up by the wonderful Chang-Rae Lee. She spent most of her time in grad school writing short stories, some of which got published, but most of which are still languishing in various states of completion on her computer.

She was about to graduate with no definite plans when she received a letter from Yaddo, the artists’ colony, saying that her application for a summer residency had been approved. She also found out she was pregnant with her first child.

At Yaddo, she started to organize her thoughts into what would become THE PIANO TEACHER. After she had her first child, she put away the book for a year, adjusting to her new life as a mother. Then she had another child and picked it up again. Then she moved to Hong Kong. When she found out she was pregnant with her third and fourth (twins!) she had all the incentive she needed to finish the book, seeing as how she might not have any time to do anything ever again. Five years after she started it, she had a good first draft and sold THE PIANO TEACHER two months before she gave birth to the twins. When she told her mother she had sold her first novel, her mother asked whether Janice's husband had been the buyer. Really.


REVIEW:

Set in Hong Kong during and after World War II, Janice Y. K. Lee's debut novel, THE PIANO TEACHER, hits just the right note and may strike a chord with many who know about this time period. The story of British, newlywed Claire Pendleton, who is with her husband, Martin, in Hong Kong where he has been sent to work for the government, starts out in 1952 as she has taken on a job to teach piano lessons to a young a Chinese girl, Locket Chen. Martin is an older Englishman who is so wrapped up in his work, he seems unaware of his wife's daily activities. Claire's piano student, Locket, lives with her parents, Melody and Victor who seem to have it all. They are young, wealthy, and privileged-all the things Claire wishes she could be. Claire's "accidental" theft from the Chen household seems to start a cycle of less than moral behavior which comes to a peak when she has an affair with the Chen's chauffeur, Will Truesdale.

Will's story alternates with Claire's as the reader discovers that the British driver was greatly damaged during the war. His intoxicating love for a Eurasian girl, Trudy Liang, shares the spotlight of his part of the story as much as the horrors of his experiences during the war do.When the Japanese invasion occurs, and war is now imminent, Will discovers the cruelty of war as well as a new, sometimes almost ugly side to his world and the woman he is in love with. The internment camps for non-Asians are something readers may know of but the shocking truths as told by Lee through Will are very hard to even believe. With this damaged past, Will however, is attracted to Claire who is totally unaware of what all he has been through in the war a decade earlier.

As the two stories of Will and Claire intertwine the reader will see how Janice Lee's extensive research and heart felt writing make the story work. The moralistic fight between right and wrong behaviors and beliefs, along with the strict social structure that people's lives were governed by, bring an intensity and bit of mystery to the story as the reader wonders could such a thing really happen. Could Claire really be that swept up by Will? Could Will learn a lesson from this piano teacher or is it his destiny to instruct her in the real ways of life during those times? THE PIANO TEACHER will take the reader through a story that has characters and a theme as different as the ebony and ivory of the piano keys Claire works with, and yet they somehow work together to make the music be heard and the story told.


GIVEAWAY
WANT TO WIN THIS BOOK?

THANKS TO GABRIELLE AND GOOD
PEOPLE AT PENGUIN BOOKS,
I HAVE 2 COPIES OF THIS FASCINATING
BOOK TO GIVE AWAY. HERE IS WHAT
YOU NEED TO DO TO WIN A COPY!

RULES:
--U.S. RESIDENTS ONLY
--NO P. O. BOXES
---INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS
IN CASE YOU WIN!
--ALL COMMENTS MUST BE SEPARATE TO
COUNT AS MORE THAN ONE!



+1 ENTRY: COMMENT AND TELL ME SOMETHING ABOUT THIS BOOK THAT MADE YOU WANT TO ENTER TO WIN.

+1 MORE ENTRY: COMMENT IF YOU HAVE ENTERED EITHER THE "CORINNE DEMAS HOLIDAY BOOK GIVEAWAY" OR THE "CHOOSE YOUR HOLIDAY GIVEAWAY" AND RECEIVE AN ENTRY FOR THE PIANO TEACHER, IF YOU SAY YOU HAVE.

+1 MORE ENTRY: COMMENT IF YOU BLOG OR TWEET ABOUT THIS GIVEAWAY AND LEAVE A LINK I CAN FOLLOW.

ALL ENTRIES ARE DUE BY
6 PM, EST, DECEMBER 16


42 comments:

holdenj said...

I always find these historical novels near the end of the English empire time intriguing. It looks good!
JHolden955(at)gmail(dot)com

holdenj said...

I entered the "choose your holiday" giveaway the other day!
Thanks.
JHolden955(at)gmail(dot)com

Mary said...

Don't enter me in the giveaway - I read an arc earlier this year and really liked this novel.

Just wanted to say I enjoyed your puns :D

A Bookshelf Monstrosity said...

Please enter me for this one! I've been playing the piano for 19 years now, so the title is immediately attractive to me :)

fitz12383(at)hotmail(dot)com

A Bookshelf Monstrosity said...

tweeted: http://twitter.com/bookmonstrosity/status/6381674477

fitz12383(at)hotmail(dot)com

Julie P. said...

I'd love to win this book because it counts for the What's in a Name Challenge!!! I actually thought I had a copy but was disappointed that I didn't. I really need to win this one!

bookingmama(at)gmail(dot)com

bermudaonion said...

I love books that are set in other cultures, especially Asian cultures, so I'd love to read this. milou2ster(at)gmail.com

Pam said...

First of all, I love the cover. Secondly, having lived in Asia for a couple of years, I am fascinated by the culture and enjoy literature taking place in that part of the world.

melacan at hotmail dot com

Pam said...

I entered the Choose your holiday giveaway

melacan at hotmail dot com

Bethie said...

Please count me in. I think the story sounds facinating. I love historical fiction.

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

Bethie said...

I entered your "choose your holiday" contest.

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

etirv said...

The title alone made me want this book. Perfect for my daughter's lovely piano teacher!

delilah0180(at)yahoo(dot)com

etirv said...

Yes, I entered the Corrine Demas giveaway!

delilah0180(at)yahoo(dot)com

Margie said...

The title intrigued me, as I played the piano as a child. In addition, I enjoy books set in other cultures. Hong Kong sounds fascinating, and it is interesting the author lived there her first fifteen years.
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

Margie said...

Yes, I entered the Corinne Demas giveaway.
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

brizmus said...

I am fascinated by japan and all things Japanese, but I've rarely had the opportunity to read a book from the perspective of people in a country being invaded by japan. I find this very intriguing, and that is why I would love to read this book.

zedster.tbb(at)gmail(DOT)com

brizmus said...

I entered the choose your holiday giveaway!

zedster.tbb(at)gmail(DOT)com

brizmus said...

it's in my sidebar under the contest list:
http://brizmusblogsbooks.blogspot.com

zedster.tbb(at)gmail(DOT)com

g.g. said...

I think it is interesting to read about the internment camps as people who don't know about them think it was just invented during the Iraq war

anjamie4 At gmail dot com

g.g. said...

I entered both the Corinne Demas and the Choose your holiday contests

anjamie4 AT gmail dot com

Sarah said...

I love reading books set in southeast Asia and love WWII history. Please enter me in this giveaway!

saemmerson at yahoo dot com

Sarah Emmerson

Sarah said...

I tweeted:

https://twitter.com/saemmerson/status/6402207205

saemmerson at yahoo dot com

Sarah Emmerson

Sarah said...

I have entered the "Choose Your Holiday" giveaway!

saemmerson at yahoo dot com

Sarah Emmerson

enyl said...

It will give my student's an opportunity to analyze two cultures from a historical perspective.
enyl(at)inbox(dot)com

Pesky Cat Designs said...

Thanks for such a great review of this book. It's sound very intriguing. Great to be able to read about the author as well.

Beth (BBRB) said...

The cover alone makes me want to read this! How pretty!

BethsBookReviewBlog AT gmail DOT com

Neas Nuttiness said...

I would like to read it because of the time period that it is set in.

Thanks for another great giveaway!

libneas[at]aol[dot]com

Glenn said...

I like that time period and the Aisan culture elements. Thanks for the giveaway.

glenn_pessano AT yahoo DOT com

Winning Readings said...

My mom's a piano teacher and has taught in MANY countries, as my dad does the missionary thing. So this sounds fascinating!

janemaritz at yahoo dot com

Benita said...

I'm fascinated with Hong Kong and so I'd love to read a novel that takes place there.

bgcchs(at)yahoo(dot)com

Benita said...

I entered both the Corinne Demas Holiday Book Giveaway, and the Choose Your Holiday Giveaway. Thanks for the extra entry, Karen.

bgcchs(at)yahoo(dot)com

DarcyO said...

I enjoy books about the WWII era and would love to read this one.

dlodden at frontiernet dot net

DarcyO said...

tweeted:

http://twitter.com/darcy1956/status/6644952586

dlodden at frontiernet dot net

Esme said...

I love Asian genre books and the cover of this book has caught my eye since the first time I saw it.

thanks

chocolateandcroissants at yahoo dot com

Esme said...

I entered your choose your holiday gift books-however when I click on the link on this post-it takes me to amazon for a oster blender-initially I was a little confused as to how I ended up there.

chocolate and croissants at yahoo dot com

Esme said...

cococroissants

http://bookinwithbingo.blogspot.com/2009/12/piano-teacher-review-and-giveaway.html the piano teacher giveaway

chocolate and croissants at yahoo dot com

Angie said...

I love books set in other countries. I always learn so much about their lives and cultures.

CherylS22 said...

I wanted to enter because I enjoy reading books about World War II.

Thanks ~ megalon22 at yahoo dot com

CherylS22 said...

I entered the Choose Your Holiday Giveaway
megalon22 at yahoo dot com

Nancye said...

It sounds interesting to me because it takes place during WW II. That's a part of history I enjoy learning about.

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Nancye said...

I entered the Corinne Dumas Giveaway.

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Nancye said...

Tweet! Tweet!

http://twitter.com/NancyeDavis/status/6744009254

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

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