The Ginger Tree
Genre: Historical Fiction
Summary (from Goodreads): In 1903, a young Scotswoman named Mary Mackenzie sets sail for China to marry her betrothed, a military attaché in Peking. But soon after her arrival, Mary falls into an adulterous affair with a young Japanese nobleman, scandalizing the British community. Casting her out of the European community, her compatriots tear her away from her small daughter. A woman abandoned and alone, Mary learns to survive over forty tumultuous years in Asia, including two world wars and the cataclysmic Tokyo earthquake of 1923.
Review: While it was interesting to read about an English woman living on her own in China and Japan in the early 1900s, I was frustrated by the pacing of this book. All the details of Mary's life would be captured in letters to her mother and journal entries for a period of a year, and then suddenly five years would pass before the next glimpse into her life. I would have appreciated more continuity in the story. I also found her lack of emotion towards her husband and children unrealistic. However, the descriptions were beautiful and evoked a strong sense of place, and the author painted a vivid picture of how hard life could be for women during that time period.
Rating: 3 stars