Reading Backwards

Book reviews by your favorite Git.

Spring Moon

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By Bette Bao Lord
You can pay 16 times what I did @Amazon.com
Read: August 2006
Rating: Honorable

Strand Books has stands outside their stores with lots and LOTS of carts housing $1 books. Last time I visited I skipped them and went straight for the “5 for $2” paperbacks. (Yum.) In amongst the really trashy romance and outdated guides to New York restaurants I found a first Avon print of Spring Moon.  $0.48 cuz Strand Books rules.

There’s no cover image for this one because I can’t find the cover my copy has and I think it’s way prettier than the modern ones.

Billed as ‘The Chinese Gone With the Wind‘ by Avon, Spring Moon has a lot to live up to. Although its epic span is certainly on par, it isn’t as compelling. Scarlett O’Hara is the heart of GWTW; everything revolves around her and it is her forceful personality that drives everything. SM is much more reserved; it has that distant, formal feel that so much East Asian literature shares. That’s a cultural thing, I know.

Nevertheless, it is very interesting. Spring Moon herself is a daughter of the house of Chang. She is a bright and bold little creature, who longs to go beyond the liao chia’s walls–logically she longs for marriage to take her outside. Marriages takes her to a new city… and tragedy continues to call her home during her 90 years of life, during which China is changed forever.

The historical setting is China from the late 1800s through 1920s. The family is split between the old and the new. Bold Talent, the eldest of Spring Moon’s uncles, studied in America and finds himself somewhere in the middle. Spring Moon is intelligent enough to enjoy the new, but she also honors tradition. Her daughter–raised haphazardly and then sent to a missionary school–believes first in Christ and then in Marx.

It is not a happy story, but it is convoluted. There are small spaces in which Spring Moon is happy. There are people she loves dearly. And there is hardship and struggle.

It was tough to get through, but I’m glad I did. Stopping would have nagged at me. It got more interesting after Lustrous Jade grew up. I’m not enthused, but I certainly didn’t hate it.

Now, go get a pristine new copy to love.

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Written by Shen

September 1, 2006 at 2:22 am

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