13 January 2013

Book Group

We read on China for November in book group, and for January we have a free read.

I rated Wild Swans by Jung Chang a five on Goodreads even though I had to put it down for a few weeks in the middle of reading it. The story is a biography of three generations of women from China, and it covers the periods of time from Feudal systems, when her grandmother was a warlord's concubine at the beginning of the twentieth century, all the way through World War II. The perspectives are fascinating because the book follows the author's grandmother, her parents, and her own young life. Her parents were Communist officials. The entire family suffered terribly due to some of Chairman Mao's policies as well as the Cultural Revolution.

I had to put it down for a little while because some of the things that happened to the people and to the country in the middle of the book were too terrible, and I needed a break.

I still think it was beautifully written, and it did not lapse into the overly negative perspective I have sometimes seen in memoirs of Asian women about their mothers. I was glad I finished because there were some very touching moments in the end, and it finished on a positive note. I would recommend it to anyone interested in learning about the history of China and its people in the past century. 

After Wild Swans, I needed something less dense, so I read Funny in Farsi, which I had borrowed from a friend probably a year ago. I guiltily tried to return it to her without having read it in November, but she was fine with my holding on to it longer. Thank goodness for that, because it was just what I needed after two months working through Wild Swans.

Funny in Farsi was a light, humorous personal narrative about a family who moved from Iran to the US in the 1970s. I liked the author's sense of humor and descriptions of characters, travel, and food.

I would recommend to someone who enjoys reading about other cultures, humor, and culture clash.


betsey said...

I loved Wild Swans! I read it a year ago and it has really stayed with me, in a good way. I think about several of the scenes and characters frequently, especially here in Hong Kong. But, man! It was intense and very horrific at times. Glad you got through it and enjoy it as well!

Jess said...

Wild Swans is on my list to read in prep for my mini-study abroad to China this summer. Thanks for your review and thoughts. I'll go into it better prepared now. :) But I'm still excited to read it.