Sunday, December 20, 2009

Book Review: The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee

The book is much like a song that, with a good hook and an interesting rhythm, starts to unravel in the end because the writer doesn't know how to finish it. The characters are very well drawn out, sympathetic and believable to a fault. The plot was folded over and over again, with turns and cliffhangers that were well thought out and satisfying. The ending, though, has the feel of the end of an old pair of jeans, unraveling and frayed.

I have been saying that it was a lot like Gone With the Wind but set in Hong Kong during WWII. And this still carries forward. I doubt that GWTW had a satisfying ending either, from what I have heard from other people. It is also very similar to _Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet_, but that book was much better, with an ending that worked.

The one element of the ending that I did like was that, in the end, Claire decided to keep on living, to embrace Hong Kong for what it was. She tended her gardens, as Voltaire described the characters at the end of Candide. We must go on living, even after the drama and the heartache. The simplicity in which Claire did this worked amazingly well. What happened to Will, I do not know. His life is revealed more in dreams and thoughts, and his fate is unknown. But I think he would have had to live his life as well. I think we all would like to have a small apartment, to live as Claire did, and be absorbed into the life of the everyday. It is the Romance of the mundane that makes life interesting. It's what most celebrities miss after their quarter hour of fame ends, or after a child star ceases to be a child. The blending in of life to life is something that never quite is accomplished. It all comes down to acceptance.

No comments:

Post a Comment