28 March 2011

Mrs Readalot and the Books About China


Mrs Readalot has been doing a lot of reading lately, in between adopting cats, toilet training toddlers and trying to keep some big kids from braining each other.

Since Mrs Readalot got rid of Sky TV there is much less crap to watch so the rainy evenings are perfect for curling up with a good book.

Nothing worse than curling up with a bad book aye?

This week Mrs R turns her attention to Red Lotus, by Pai Kit Fai.
This book was recommended to her by Amy, in the Bookclub Discussion: Recommended Reading...?
Mrs Readalot was intrigued to read another story about China, especially one recommended by the lovely Amy who has great taste. Mrs Readalot's lovely friend (and BookClub Pal) Gail is heading off to live in China very soon *sniff* so it is good to be familiar with what lies in store for her dear friend.

Here are Mrs Readalot's thoughts on Red Lotus:

I opened this book and was drawn in very quickly. The writing style was beautifully matter-of-fact, and gave me an immediate sense that I was reading about exotic things, people and places, but that to the people living this story, this was all commonplace.

PhotobucketI loved the character of Li Xia, the young girl who evaded the custom of foot binding. I found her brave and believable.
I was fascinated with the customs and practises of China in the early 20th century.
Foot binding repels me. When I looked it up on Wikipedia, I was horrified. Horrified.

"Lotus Feet"

You would not believe the suffering of women in those days. the way they had no rights, no protection, no standing. The horror of little girl babies being drowned in the rice fields, or buried alive. Yes, really. Girls had no value. They weren't even counted as part of the family. Only sons mattered.

So hard to believe.

So this story gripped me... but I lost my way after the half way mark when the story focused on Li Xia's daughter Siu Sing. Sing did not resonate with me.

The last few chapters dragged and I stumbled through the ending, always uncaring about what happened.
I felt the author had lost his way, and wished he had focused the book completely on Li Xia.

But Still. A fascinating look at the lives of women in China before World War II. I would have given it four but for the dragged-out ending.


Mrs Readalot gives Red Lotus: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 

 Other Books about China that Mrs Readalot has enjoyed are:
  • Wild Swans - by Jung Chang. A true story of three generations of Chinese women from the early 20th century through the cultural revolution (shudder) and up til today. Heartbreaking. Unbelievable the strength of the human spirit, the toughness of women and the love of mothers for their daughters.
  • Mao's Last Dancer - by Li Cunxin. Another fascinating book, and also a true story about a Chinese ballet dancer and his life through the upheaval of the cultural revolution also. How these people survived and succeeded through the hardest of trials I don't know. I doubt I would have survived.
  • PhotobucketThe Good Women of China - By Xinran. This book was the most impacting of all. A collection of true stories about women by one of China's earliest talk-back hosts, these stories left me reeling. I lay in bed at night thinking, how could anyone live through those times? And yet, they did. This book is small but perfectly formed.

Totally recommend all the above. ♥


Mrs Readalot would love to hear your thoughts on all or any of the books mentioned here on the Book Club Discussion...

Mrs Readalot is currently eagerly awaiting her turn to read Water for Elephants (she is 47/109 on the library request list) What are you reading right now?

Why not come by and share about it on our Book Club??

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The South African Kiwis said...

Speechless at the footbinding photo. Good review, keen to find the book (even if I only enjoy it up to the halfway mark).

Brigitte said...

Footbinding = hideous!
But the book and chatacters sound fascinating, not too happy about drowning baby girls though... but I guess that was reality huh?
Maybe I'll read it after I've finished being pregnant with all it's hormones that make me cry at any and everything! ;)

Sophie said...

Ahhh its terrible seeing those photos. Another good book about China I read a while ago is River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze by Peter Hessler who went as a peace corps volunteer (I think) to be a teacher in a town in the middle of China. Very interesting book and I found out later he wrote for the NY Times which explains why the quality was so good.

Have you read The Heavenly Man? That's amazing too, all about the house churches in China. Mind-blowing.

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