Welcome to the book blog of writer and creative writing tutor, Diane Paul.

Thanks to the publishers and kind PR people who send me books and releases about their clients' books for review. Press releases and review copies of fiction and non-fiction are always welcome. (No sci-fi, fantasy or erotica please.)

Due to the barrage of requests from self-published authors for reviews, I'm unable to deal with them all, although I'm sometimes drawn to non-fiction for the subject matter. And because I love print books, the smell, the touch of the paper and the sight of the words, I don't have an electronic reader or review e-books.

E-mail to: bookblogforbookworms@keywordeditorial.com for the postal address.

My writing website: http://www.keywordeditorial.com/

Sunday, 15 August 2010

The Piano Teacher by Janice YK Lee

I always buy books that have the word 'piano' in them and there seem to be lots of them around nowadays. However, this one had very little to do with pianos and pianists; the protagonist, Claire just happens to be a piano tutor in 1950s Hong Kong and having an illicit relationship with Will, the driver of her pupil's parents, the Chens. The pupil herself, Locket has her own story but that's just one of the many mysteries that the author unravelled while I was glued to her book. Will has been targeted by a flighty young Eurasian woman with a taste for the high life among Hong Kong's hedonistic set. Trudy Liang lives for the moment. We flit between the 40s and 50s gaining a fascinating insight into the class-ridden snobbery of expat life in the colony pre, during and post war. Some of these people have nowhere else to go and lived by their wits during the Japanese occupation. As both a historical and social document, it's worth reading. It pulled me into another world where I could imagine these people and the world they inhabited. Lee spent years researching the background to her story and pays extraordinary attention to detail. We see Will experience the cruel and foul conditions of the Japanese prison camp, while Trudy saves her skin (for a while) under the protection of the enemy. He could join her on the outside but his integrity gets the better of him. This is a story of love and betrayal. Will's experiences during the war have taken their toll on his ability to open his heart and his relationship with Claire is doomed from the start. It also shows us to what lengths some people will go to save their own skins at the expense of destroying the lives of innocent people and how it takes a war to make saints and sinners of us all.

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