We’re still moving, rather than fully moved, although hopefully that will progress a lot further over the bank holiday weekend. This theme, of making one’s home under often difficult circumstances (far harder than any we are personally facing, thankfully) and trying to be understood and to understand within specific cultures runs through the three books I finished today and yesterday.
Xinran‘s recounting of the lives of a very wide variety of Chinese women is eye-opening and in many cases shocking. Somehow this is not an entirely negative tale, even though most of the women have been deceived, abused, abandoned or simply ignored and devalued by an often brutal regime that mistreated both them and the men who should have supported them. There is a resilience that wins through even the misery in many cases, and even when it can’t, there is a sense that something is being learnt by others, very very slowly. This was written after Xinran came to live in London, in part to teach us in the West more about China.
130. Flambards by K. M. Peyton
One of those classic (if only from the 1960s) children’s books I somehow missed out on. In 1908 twelve year old orphaned Christina goes to live at Flambards, the country estate where the horses get the best that is available, but people can make do, to live with her hunting-obsessed Uncle Russell and his two sons, Mark, who wants nothing more than to live as his father has done, and the younger William, who wants to taste the freedom of the new technologies, particularly aeroplanes.
The coming of the First World War overshadows the household as Christina tries to pick her way through the best of both worlds. This is the first of a series.
131. Lights from Jerusalem: Stories and Perspectives from the Holy City by Sara Yoheved Rigler
Well crafted chapters mix anecdote and Jewish philosophy to show how the author tries to learn from her experiences and suggest how others might do similarly.