Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Piano Teacher by Janice Y. K. Lee

Lately, and not on purpose, I have been reading a lot of fiction that centers on China, Japan, North Korea, etc.  (The Buddah in the Attic, Nothing to Envy, the Shanghai Sisters, Dreams of Joy).  This book takes place in Hong Kong.  I am always confused about Hong Kong, is it China, is it not, so I googled it.  Here's what I found:  Hong Kong is a group of islands off the coast of mainland China.  While part of China NOW it is one of two 'special administrative regions' of China.  It runs itself in all areas except for foreign relations and military matters.  At one point it was a British colony and then was occupied by Japan during WWII. 
The book covers two time time periods.  The first centers around the occupation by Japan, the atrocities committed then and the interplay between the Chinese and the foreigners who made Hong Kong their home.  The second is that of 10 years (or so) later.  The reprecussions of what occurred during the war and the secrets that came out of that time.  The two main characters are Claire, the piano teacher who has been hired by a very wealthy, influential Chinese family, the Chen's, to teach their daughter and Will, the Chen's driver..  It turns out that Will used to be involved with a cousin of the Chen's.  This was a very interesting book and I learned a lot. 

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