Little Reunions by Eileen Chang
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The translator for this book had quite the task, because it isn't just the words needing translated, but also a complex family structure and intricate layers of meanings behind gestures and comments. But to read a "romance" of sorts set in Shanghai right before the Communist Revolution is a very specific capture of a moment in time. This is its first time in English, and although it was written in the 1970s, it was not published in China until 2009.
It is somewhat challenging to read because of the complex relationship trees, and reminds me of a 19th century novel of manners, but with a new setting, one I am less familiar with. One where loyalties are complicated, love is not always monogamous, and leaving is sometimes the best option. (That's where the title comes from, all the "little reunions" people would have when returning from exile/pilgrimage/escape.)
The central character of Julie shares some characteristics with the author, in that they both had to leave school in Hong Kong when the Japanese invaded during World War II, and they both ended up married to Japanese sympathizers who ended up as traitors.
Thanks to the publisher for providing early access to this title via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. The book comes out January 16, 2018.
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