Monday, August 24, 2015
This is a quietly told story of a Chinese farmer's life in the pre-revolution days. My feeling is that I liked it a lot, but not enough to rate it a full 4 stars (the rating would be 3.7 stars).
It is a heartfelt account of life in the grassroots society of that era, with its own epoch-relevant values, superstitions, class distinction and sexist attitude, not any dissimilar to that depicted in other Chinese literary works relating to that era (Ba Jin's The Family, Autumn, Spring comes to mind). What sets this novel apart from those Chinese works is perhaps the absence of bitterness in the narrator's voice, which comes in a calm, surreal tone. Why could the author write in such a tone? It is because she was a foreign visitor living in China only for a temporary period of time. But as a story, it is superbly structured and told with credibly indigenous parlance.
Friday, August 14, 2015
I'm giving this novel 3.5 stars. The story started out very promising, but then towards the last one-third, especially the denouement, it got a bit drawn out and trying on my patience.
Overall, the plot is very intricate and saturated with well thought out details and the characters are vividly drawn. The writing style can be somewhat cumbersome though, but not unusual of authors of that time period. I do like the sensitivity and compassion towards women that Collins displays throughout his writing. There is also a subtle tint of humor in his description of the two Italian characters (the hearty Professor Pesca and the abominable Count Fosco) and the quirky and self-indulgent Mr. Frederick Fairlie.
Monday, August 10, 2015
A recent 4-star review of Fated and Fateless by Tracy A. Fischer for Readers' Favorite:-
"Love and grief, good and bad, wealth and poverty. The true yin and yang of life is at the heart of Fated and Fateless, the newest novel by Alice Poon. Spanning four decades in colonial Hong Kong, Fated and Fateless follows characters Wendy Kwan and Diana Lee on their journeys to adulthood. Childhood friends in the 1950s, a falling-out in their teenage years turns them into life-long enemies. Wendy, who rises from abject poverty in a true rags to riches story, pulls herself up through the ranks of corporate Hong Kong through her own hard work, dedication and intelligence. Diana, given too much from the time of birth, finds that her illusions of wealth, sophistication and glamour are not what they seem, and are not always there when she needs them. This tale of two women’s wildly divergent paths is somewhat of a cautionary tale in terms of depending too much on what others can give you instead of on what you can earn on your own.
Alice Poon’s newest novel is a short, easy read. I especially enjoy books in which I can learn about countries and cultures through the prose of the novel, and this is definitely one of these books. The lifestyles and customs of those living in 1950s to 1980s Hong Kong are elaborated upon delicately in this novel. I appreciated that the descriptions came organically throughout the book; in no way did I feel like information was being thrust upon me. I look forward to future works by this author, and hope that she continues to center her work around Hong Kong."