Monday, July 9, 2012

The Red Chamber

Today's choice in new books is a little heavier reading. But I love Chinese culture and am always interested to read Chinese history. So here is my review of Pauline Chen's new book, "The Red Chamber" available on Amazon on July 10th.

"The Red Chamber" is based on the 18th century China’s classic novel, “Dreams of the Red Chamber.” Author, Pauline Chen has taken some of the original characters from the book to weave an intriguing tale of life in the opulent women’s quarters of a privileged Beijing family of that era. The story follows the lives of three strong women who forge a friendship in a world where they are at the mercy, not only of their husbands, but their older female relatives as well.

For anyone wishing to understand Chinese culture and history of that period, this is a fascinating story. However, it is not an easy read. To begin with, there are so many characters in the family compound that it was necessary to have a glossary to keep them all straight. In addition, a family tree gives the main members of the Jia family, and how they are related. 

The novel is not a page-turner and with the culture being so unique, it takes time to absorb this book fully. However, it is well written and I enjoyed savoring it over a period of time. If Chinese culture and history is of interest to you, it’s a great read.

 My only complaint is that the story is told in present tense, which is something I personally don’t like. But that’s just me.