Young Ah Ling, son of a prostitute and white man, lands in 1860s California and navigates his way through the laundries of his Chinese heritage and the railroads of the white men; never quite at home with either people. Years later Anna May Wong; Hollywood’s first Chinese film star, must take seductress roles and cannot kiss a white man onscreen – visits China, and her father, and feels alien. Years later again, Vincent Chin is murdered in a bar because he looks Japanese. And years later again, half-Chinese writer John Ling Smith visits China to adopt a baby girl.
Though in style this book was like a fictionalised documentary, it got me completely. I was hooked on every story, and so enjoyed the experience of entering into each of the four worlds it portrayed. And I think the fictionalisation probably made the points the more poignant: we were taken intoworlds and saw different themes and ideas that run through the whole thing. Like being offered the proof rather than the conclusions. I really enjoyed it!
Last year I took a risk and made my New Year’s Resolutions very public! It’s beyond time to check back in and see how I’ve done. I’m about to paste the list in and comment. I’m expecting a mixed bag. There are some I definitely didn’t do, but I’m pleased with the effect the ones I did manage have had on my life. Here goes..
An illness hits earth, and 99% of men die. And 99.8% of women die. The remainder of humanity wander and scrounge from the earth, women enslaved and objectified. And endangered – if any of them become pregnant they and their babies die. An ex-midwife is one of the few to survive, and soon finds her mission; to travel in disguise helping the women she meets as much as she can; distributing advice, medicine and contraceptives as she falls in and out with various peoples trying to make a life.
So, here we are again. Most humans have died from a disease. I’m sure I’ve read at least two of these recently in the last couple of years. This one appealed to me because of the midwife: a profession that after having my baby I greatly admire. And it was interesting
Alice’s friend Ada is tasked with finding the fallen child, and finds herself tumbling down the rabbit hole to find familiar faces and new adventures. Meanwhile the search for Alice continues, as her big sister and governess search fruitlessly, and their father receives a visitor with a foreign ward. The worlds above and below turn to chaos as everyone tries to find or leave home…
Hmmmmm. I was super excited to read this, though my excitement was tempered by the fact that LOTS of people had told me that Maguire’s Wicked was boring. Now, this book wasn’t boring at all. The plot was interesting, the characters intriguing, the concept brilliant. And there was a lot of Carrollian absurdity, invention and wit. But I think that the problem people have with Maguire’s writing is his elitist prose.
Alexandra Jennings is back for her second year at Akarnae Academy in the magical world of Medora that she stumbled into by mistake last year. The enemies are still out to get her, the professors to teach her lessons she never thought she’d need to learn, and her friends to support and surprise her along the way. We explore the world more, and understand a bit better what’s going on.
Here we jump straight back into the world and into adventure, with Alexandra once again in danger, in deep with her friends and fighting for what she believes is right. So much so that it hardly seemed like a separate book to the first one (and I’m having a little trouble separating them in my mind) and so, like the first, is basically just tremendous fun.
As usual I’ve read a lot of books this year, but there are three that clearly stand out from the crowd. These are the ones to buy your friends for Christmas, that are worth getting in physical form and that I would love to talk about with you. If you’re looking for a book to buy, look no further!
Kate Shackleton just wants a break away from her busy life, and to see her goddaughter Felicity. But when she arrives in Whitby for her seaside getaway she finds a dead body, and Felicity has run away. Are the two events connected? Is everyone in the town who they seem to be? Is Alma, Felicity’s mother, really as naive as she seems, hiding behind her fortune telling? And where is Felicity’s father?
Interestingly, the cover of this book make me not keen, but some of my close reading friends loved it. In the end, it was a pretty accurate portrayal of the contents. A fun, fairly slow mystery enjoying a coastal setting, with a fun female sleuth. I definitely enjoyed this book, though I think it is probably better if you’ve read the others in the series, and I prefer a bit more of a driven plot.
Màni Stein lives in Iceland and lives for film. Any time he doesn’t spend with his male clients he spends at the movies, until the Spanish flu hits, and the world around him begins to disintegrate. He drives for a doctor, and tries to make contact with the girl he can’t stop thinking about.
This was a quick read, but for me that was probably the best thing about it. It was written as a tribute to a dead friend (or grandfather? Or something? Can’t remember) who I think was an historic gay man in Iceland, and as such contained lots and lots of graphic sex scenes, which I definitely prefer not to read.
1837. Sarah Gale is sentenced to hang for the death of her ex-partner’s new wife, but not everyone is convinced that she is guilty. Lawyer Edmund Fleetwood is set the challenge of revisiting the evidence and making an appeal. But an untrusting Sarah isn’t cooperative, and very few people are – and even the stories Fleetwood hears are twisted and confusing, and no one seems to be telling the truth, even within his own family…
Oh. My. Goodness. This was amazing! For some reason I wasn’t expecting much when I picked this up, but I enjoyed it immensely. And also got so scared that I asked my husband to come downstairs with me when I had been reading in the middle of the night. We were in desolate, pitch black Scotland, in a pitch black and creaky house. He said no. I just about coped. But the twisting and turning and tales told and lies and mysteries here were just fantastic!
When a car crash sends a woman off her bike in Salisbury, five different people interact with the moment in different ways, bringing their experience of the city and of life. We meet Rita, flower stall holder and drug dealer, whose life has been disaster after disaster but who meets it with a sort of profane bravery, teenage Sam who is trying to cope with his Father’s illness and his first love, elderly George whose wife has just died and who was driving the car, lonely military wife Alison who misses her husband and feels she has missed her son, and security guard Liam who has returned to Salisbury for reasons he can’t quite explain.
This book was clever. It was revealing; it got under the skin of totally different people, showed their thoughts and feelings and fears and loneliness. It exposed different ages, walks of life, experiences. It told first person tales through different voices and styles, coming from the central point of the crash and going backwards and forwards with each character, painting a picture of that moment and it’s significance. And it made me never, ever want to go to Salisbury.