Posts Tagged ‘The Good Women of China’

Once again, in green

Sunday, 1 August 2010

NaBloPoMo August logoNot convinced I’m going to stick to the NaBloPoMo theme for this August of “Green”, but it might prompt the odd thought here and there, and I do find the challenge helps me to keep up the regular blogging.

18. The Good Women of China by Xinran

Yep, read this this one before too. Its episodic nature (each chapter is pretty much a story in itself, although they do tie together) would appear to make this a good book for dipping into, and yet I pretty much always seem to read the whole thing together. It’s relatively short, of course, and very well written, as well as generally being enthralling, so I suppose that’d do it. I read a couple of the chapters aloud to my DH as I went, this time (talking about the book to him is what made me think to reread it) and that made the emotional pull of these true stories (especially the deep sadness in many) even stronger.

From my recollection, these stories were gathered mostly in the early 1990s, although many of them relate back several decades, and it really becomes apparent how fast Chinese society and governance has changed over those decades, with younger and older women having had completely different lives. (I first read about that phenomenon many years ago in Jung Chang‘s Wild Swans, which I really should reread – and which has a green cover! 😉 ) I have to wonder what a new version of this book, compiled a decade or two later, would be like.

Between Worlds

Sunday, 25 May 2008

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.

129. The Good Women of China: Hidden Voices by Xinran

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.