Monday, January 28, 2013
A Hundred Flowers
I have been a fan of Gail Tsukiyama's for many years, so when I saw this book at the library, I was eager to read it. I appreciate her simple yet beautifully descriptive writing style, and I usually enjoy the slower pace that is common in her books. This book, however, fell a little short.
This story, of a family living in China in the 1950s under the rule of Chairman Mao, helped me understand the difficulties that ordinary people faced at that time with food, shelter and health. But I found the character development lacking, perhaps because the book was written from the perspectives of the five main characters, sometimes with only a few paragraphs devoted to one character before moving on to the next. The story did not flow as smoothly as I had expected from a Tsukiyama book. The end was also unsatisfying, leaving the characters in the middle of their lives with no real resolution of any issues. I wanted to know what happened - particularly to Suyin, the teenage mother.
But even after listing those flaws, I find myself thinking fondly of Kai Ying (the mother) and how Suyin blossomed under her care and I remember the lyrical descriptions of the tree and the gardens, and I can't help but give this 4 stars.