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This second book from Jamie Ford, who also wrote "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet", is set in Seattle, as his first book is. It is a beautiful, yet sad story that takes place beginning in the early 1920's. I love historical fiction. It never ceases to amaze me that in a nation (America) where we have prided ourselves on freedom, that there was really little "freedom" for some folks . . . even those born on American soil. Less than a century ago, our government turned it's back and turned a blind eye to the welfare of children just because they happened to be (in this case) Chinese. And the abuse of the Chinese men of their own wives and children and their expectation that a woman should accept this abuse without complaint, just turns my stomach. Yet, rarely we saw a man, a husband and father of true character . . . one that inspires his family, long after his death. And a woman, who is allowed to dream and grow, while remaining Chinese. What women of that era were forced to do for love, well, it just blows my mind . . . and women from a foreign culture were bound by an iron clad tradition . . . their marriages were arranged by their parents. More than anything, this is a human story of a very young Chinese girl, who lost both parents, endured horrible abuse by her step-father, and then bore the shame that he caused. Still she fought for her child, gave up every shred of humility, and ultimately did what she had to do in order to protect him from the horror that she had to endure as a child.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
Let me start out by saying that I really enjoyed Hotel on Bitter and Sweet and was looking forward to this book.
The story never grabbed me at the start. The plot is pretty much set out for you at the very beginning so there are no surprises. That would be ok if the story was rich in character development or setting description. Having just visited Seattle, I was looking forward to hearing about the setting back in the depression era, but there was not enough setting description given for me. i always love books where the descriptions are enough to make me feel like i am there and this one did not do that. The story picked up a little mid way, but slowed down again toward the finish.
The author alternates the story of William and Willow's life interspersed with minor characters who I felt could have added a richness to the story. My favorite character was Charlotte, William's blind friend from the orphanage. But I was left wanting more. I understood her story, but felt that it could have continued throughout the book versus wrapping up earlier.
I felt in many ways that the story was superficial. There was no in depth effort given to the plot, characters, or setting. Seattle's gloomy weather could have added so much more to the story and a greater development of some of the minor characters again would have helped.
The narration was average and did not distract from the book. Overall, I would give it a 2.5.
6 of 8 people found this review helpful