I like this book. I am very interested in the real-life people and events in both the Chinese and the English segments of the literary circle.
However, this novel doesn’t quite fulfil its promise. Sometimes its simple sentences work. Sometimes they seem stilted. They aren’t charged with emotion. They don’t vibrate with life. They stay on the paper.
There are erotic passages and explicitly sexual passages. These I found interesting. The other interactions with the characters were less so. I think Hong Ying was inhibited by the towering reputations of the literary figures whose lives she was depicting. It’s not easy to write about other writers and to uncover their most intimate relationships.
It’s a beautiful attempt at a very ambitious project, though.
In her foreword, the author asks: Are Oriental women really so irresistibly seductive?
Let me answer: Not always. Some days we just stay in bed and eat seaweed crackers.