Farewell My Concubine
Posted February 3, 2012on:
This is a poignant, short novella that lasts just over 3 hours in the unabridged version I listened to.
The bare bones of the story form a very potent plot but the narrative is somewhat dry. Since it spans over 50 years and the lives of the main characters are set against the turbulent political changes in China in that period, from the Japanese invasion, through the rise of Mao Zedong to the end of British colonial rule in Hong Kong, it is hard for the author to squeeze in the telling personal details that touch your heart.
Consequently, I was not drawn into the drama of the characters’ lives; their emotions were at one remove.
You only have to glance at the stills from the movie to see how much more powerful it is. It has more colour, more life, more emotion. The actors’ faces make you want to cry.
The narrator of the audio book is a famous Hollywood actress, Nancy Kwan, but her pronunciation of the Chinese names was so mangled and so inconsistent that I sometimes wasn’t sure who she was talking about. Never mind. The real Chinese diaspora has only just started. Give it a few more years and everybody in the world will be speaking fluent Mandarin, even our lovely friends from Hong Kong.