What would you do, what choices would you make if a war arrived in your once peaceful life? Who would you save and who would you betray? Your friends, your family, your country – even yourself – to save yourself? And one day, when the war is over and you return to some semblence of your life, how would you live with those choices? Can you ever escape the past?
The Piano Teacher by Janet Lee explores those questions in the exotic world of Hong Kong before, during and after World War II. Arriving in Hong Kong ten years after the war, Claire Pendleton soon begins an affair with Will Truesdale, the English driver of a powerful Hong Kong family. Gradually she learns that Will hides many secrets – his love affair with the Eurasian heiress Trudy Liang before the war, his experiences as a prisoner-of-war, his current plan to right past wrongs. Almost without her knowledge, she’s swept up into a story that was set in motion years in the past.
Lee writes beautifully, evoking the glamour and glitz of pre-war Hong Kong and the horrors and suffering of the war years with equal clarity. This is an eye-opening look at a lesser known arena of the war and at how people struggled to survive. It’s richly populated with interesting characters and their stories, not the least of which is Hong Kong herself, exotic and mysterious and full of secrets.