Sunday, January 1, 2012

Blog Tour and Review: All the Flowers in Shanghai by Duncan Jepson

Thanks to Trish from TLC Book Tours for inviting me to take part in the tour for this debut novel by Duncan Jepson.

Here is a summary of All the Flowers in Shanghai:

For every young Chinese woman in 1930s Shanghai, following the path of duty takes precedence over personal desires.

For Feng, that means becoming the bride of a wealthy businessman in a marriage arranged by her parents. In the enclosed world of the Sang household—a place of public ceremony and private cruelty—fulfilling her duty means bearing a male heir. For every young Chinese woman in 1930s Shanghai, following the path of duty takes precedence over personal desires.

The life that has been forced on her makes Feng bitter and resentful, and she plots a terrible revenge. But with the passing years comes a reckoning, and Feng must reconcile herself with the sacrifices and terrible choices she has made in order to assure her place in the family and society—even as the violent, relentless tide of revolution engulfs her country.

Both a sweeping historical novel and an intimate portrait of one woman’s struggle against tradition, All the Flowers in Shanghai marks the debut of a sensitive and revelatory writer.

My Review:
This was a wonderful debut novel by Duncan Jepson that gives us a glimpse into the life of Feng, a young Chinese girl.   Footbinding is no longer practiced in 1930's Shanghai, but women still do not have many rights.  Feng did not plan on having an eventful life, as the family had arranged for her older sister to reap all of the rewards from society.

Feng seemed to be content living her life as the younger sister in the family, not having any expectations and being able to live her life as she wanted when the time was right.  She had a special relationship with her grandfather who took the time with her almost every day to walk through the vibrant and colorful gardens to introduce her to all of the flowers.

Young Feng has a rude awakening one day when her life takes a drastic change.  For reasons that she doesn't understand, her parents decide to marry her into a wealthy family.  She truly enjoyed her simple life and was not prepared for the stress and responsibility that came along with her upcoming nuptuals.

Having to live her new life without the true love that she had hoped for, Feng becomes a bitter woman, looking out only for herself and finding small ways to punish those around her.  This bitterness seeps into her heart and soul and will leave a mark on her for the rest of her life.

I really enjoyed this novel as it gives me a glimpse into a specific period in China that was so educational.  We watch as the various classes of society change as communism is put into place.  It is through this change that Feng is brought back to the roots of the person that she is and is able to come to terms with the person that she has become.  With themes of China, communism, family, and obligations this was a great novel and I also think it would make a great book club selection.  I do not hesitate in recommending this novel.

My Rating:  4/5

Disclosure:  This book was provided to me by the publisher to participate in this blog tour and provide an honest review.


bermudaonion said...

I love to read about China during that time period, so I bet I'd love that book too.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed this one! Thanks for being on the tour. I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.