Pavilion of Women

What an enigmatic little book. Typically I like to finish a book chosen for the book club and have a few days to stew it over in my mind before the discussion. I didn’t get the chance with this one because it was so difficult to drag myself to the end and actually finish it – and not just because I have a newborn at home. I went to the discussion with little sense of whether I actually loved it or hated it and only through the discussion did I figure it out, sort of. It is a very slow and subtle story where halfway through I still didn’t feel like anything had actually happened. Then, the end is so thrown together that even the big things that happened seemed to be glossed over. Seeing the different reactions from the women in the book club, I believe different ages will take different things away from this book. Because I am still relatively young, I did not understand many of the driving forces of the main character although many of my friends who have grown children and been married longer than I said they identified with her actions. My favorite part of the book was the journey of enlightenment and self-awareness the main character goes through at the end, although it was based on such a subtle premise that it was difficult to take it seriously as part of the story. I give it two stars because even though it was difficult to read and finish I was not unhappy that I had read it when I was through. And it yielded a very lively discussion for the book club group – one in which we rarely went off topic from the book itself which can’t be said too often. If you want excitement and action, perhaps a novel on Chinese culture is not the best place to start. But if you want a book with many layers built on subtle actions where you must read deeply and perhaps more than once, this would be a good choice. It is rich in detail and insight into the daily lifestyle of wealthy and privileged Chinese families which was at times fascinating as well as disturbing.

About terraluft

Writer; wife, mother and impulsive bitch incapable of saying no. Fueled by coffee, yoga and sarcasm. View all posts by terraluft

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