Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Piano Teacher

Since re-discovering the library, I can't seem to read enough these days. I've always been a voracious reader, but lately it's even moreso. Flying through the Twilight series, engrossed in the Kay Scarpetta series by Patricia Cornwell about a chief Medical Examiner in Virginia to sate my morbid curiosities (though I question the sanity in doing that, as I often have to put it down and read something else late at night if I've already checked the locks on the windows and doors more than twice, looked in closets and even under my bed....), or more instructional tomes like Knitting Circles Around Socks I've reinforced that books will always be an intrinsic part of my life; continually connecting with characters on paper that you wish you knew in real life.

I had read reviews for Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford and The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee in a magazine and put them in my request queue at the library right away. The Piano Teacher came almost immediately and it was amazing! It just came out last month so run, don't walk, to your local library and check out a copy.

Not often does a book leave such a lasting impression. Set in World War II Hong Kong, and then a decade later, the stories of the women who are the lovers of Will Truesdale, a British man in Hong Kong, unfold on the pages with rich language that isn't wordy for wordy's sake and tell of two women whose lives are very different, but have Will as their center.

What struck me the most was that the in the second 'life' he is only a decade older yet the war has so changed him, making him a much older man. Throughout, I just kept thinking about our current situation and how we, as citizens of the US, are often so insulated from the everyday grisly details of war. Yes, we have the news media now but I imagine they still can't do justice to the in-person experience; the sights, smells and tastes of the depictions in the book are so vivid, that it makes you again feel at the least, fortunate, to live where we do if only geographically.

I loved The Piano Teacher, and would read it again if only to see what pieces I may have missed in the rich tapestry that she wove throughout to lead you to the final scenes. I won't include any more details because I wouldn't want to spoil any surprises.

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