I didn't think this one was all it was cracked up to be. The title character was so annoying and vacant, I wanted to slap her. The plot was pretty predictable and slow-moving. No surprises except that it was a disappointment.
I decided to read this book because I read a rave review of it in a magazine. After I started reading it, I found out that the magazine that gave it that rave review also has Janice Lee on staff.
I thought the book was just okay. Not good. Not great. To me, it didn't really have a point other than to demonstrate how people's lives can change because of war. The synopsis on the book jacket said that a terrible secret would be revealed, but IMHO there was no big terrible secret revealed. It was actually quite a let-down, waiting for a big reveal and then none was coming. There was one plot twist that might have been the reveal they were talking about, but if that's the case it wasn't such a big shock like it was made out to be.
I gave this book 3 starts, and that's being generous.
The best part of this book was the cover. It was a poorly written first book with a trite romance theme, there was a little bit of historical background that made it slightly redeemable but I wouldn't recommend wasting your time on this one. I was very disappointed and my book club felt the same way about it.
I started out reading the book and then switched to listening to the audio version on my MP3 player. I found when I was reading the book it seemed stilted and awkward. It seemed like the author glossed over certain parts and just assumed the reader was following her thought processes. The audio version did make the words and conversations seem more relevant, but did little to bring the characters to life, especially Claire. I never got a real sense of who Claire was and felt she was not suited to the privilege of being the title character. This was really Trudys story. And maybe even Lockets story, yet we hardly knew Locket at all. Will was easier to understand, except for his relationship with Claire. He said she was like a blank slate, but that doesnt explain it to me. In my opinion, the author missed the mark on this one.
Favorite quote: She reads about Beethoven, Chinese rice farming, biographies of English prime ministers, and finds comfort in the fact that she will never run out of books.
I found this to be a remarkable book, particularly for a debut novel. The main characters are fascinating, and connecting them through the juxtaposition of ten years, which encompasses the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong, is masterful.
Enigmatic Will is an Englishman who falls in love with Trudy, a Eurasian socialite in 1942 and then has an afair in 1952 with a married English piano teacher, who becomes embroiled in his past and his present. There are numerous connections that both enhance and detract from both relationships. The ending surprised me and also satisfied my curiosity about what happened to the people in this novel.
It is also a mesmerizing glimpse into an occupied Hong Kong during WWII where people's loyalties are often divided and ambiguous. I hope that Janice Y.K. Lee is already working on another novel of this caliber.