Genre: Historical Fiction/China
Buy this Book: Amazon, Powell's, Indiebound
Summary from publisher:
All the Flowers in Shanghai is Jepson's stunning debut novel. Set in 1930s Shanghai,the Paris of the East, but where following the path of duty still takes precedence over personal desires, a young Chinese woman named Feng finds herself in an arranged marriage to a wealthy businessman. In the enclosed world of her new household-a place of public ceremony and private cruelty-she learns that, above all else, she must bear a male heir. Ruthless and embittered by the life that has been forced on her, Feng seeks revenge by doing the unthinkable. Years later, she must come to a reckoning with the decisions she has made to assure her place in family and society, before the entire country is caught up in the fast-flowing tide of revolution.
I have to admit that I have never been very interested in fiction about China. Nonfiction—yes. Fiction---not so much. It was one of my concentrations as an undergraduate and I think I overloaded myself. But I couldn’t seem to resist this one. First of all, the cover is beautiful and just calls out “Read me now, woman!” and it an epistolary novel—I live for them.
I had some trouble with this one. I did. It took me a couple of tries to get into the book. I tried to think of reasons for this and the only one I can come up with is my near passionate dislike of Feng. I had moments of liking her in the beginning but through the book she transforms into someone I couldn’t even begin to understand. But I do like that I had such a strong reaction to her. I also like that for every reason I didn’t like her, there was a justification. She wasn’t unlikeable because she was just a bad character but her circumstances made her that way.
There was much to love about this book. The descriptions and language were simply amazing. Even in epistolary format, the descriptions were vivid and interesting. I loved how the theme of flowers wove through the plot. I may be one of the few but I love how the single point of view we get from the letters provides you with a kind of tunnel vision. I personally enjoy being confined to one person’s perceptions when reading a novel especially if I find that person a bit difficult to like to begin with.
*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.