Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Book Review - "Mistress Miao" by Yun Rou

I had the pleasure of reading an earlier version of the novel and was impressed with the writing and the author's knowledge of Chinese history and culture. The protagonist Miao is loosely based on a real-life 12th century female rebel leader called Yang Miaozhen, who married and joined forces with Li Quan, a Jurchen bandit leader. They first defected from the Jurchen Jin Dynasty to Southern Song, then rebelled against Southern Song, and later pledged allegiance to the Mongols.

The story runs on a dual time-line, alternating between present-day America and China, and 12th century China, and is punctuated with Chinese mythological elements. The bizarre happenings in the lives of present-day interracial couple Lulu (ethnic Chinese) and Solomon (American) and in the life of 12th century Miao are woven tightly and intriguingly to leave the reader breathless. The modern-day narrative in large part involves Solomon's visit to China in a desperate quest for a way to save Lulu's life. He discovers more than he can handle.

The novel was quirky in places but did have a deeper message. It was an entertaining read overall.


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