Bearing the risk of being loathed by female readers everywhere,
this reviewer is going to insensitively state that women are
the strangest species to understand ever. This book only further
reaffirmed that notion.
this 1925 book, popular novelist W. Somerset Maugham writes
a beautifully lyrical story about a British upper-class woman
Kitty Fane who is forced by her husband to go to China where
cholera raids the land. She brought this ill fate upon herself
– the love-starved woman had an affair with a politician.
In China, she goes through an emotional roller coaster ride
where she comes to terms with her own life.
is almost unfathomable how an entire novel can be written
out of this woman’s self-discovery journey. Oh wait
- this is exactly the type of feminist literature which attracts
female readers. And how unfortunate that this reviewer isn’t
is however interesting to note that Maugham is of the male
is no doubt that his descriptions of the landscapes in China
are gorgeously written, and will probably form picturesque
visions in readers’ minds. The short chapters and plentiful
of dialogue also make this book an easy read.
also avoids sweetening of his characters, taking care to paint
them in a neutral; or even dislikeable light. The female protagonist
Kitty Fane is one great example. Her behavior is typically
aristocratic, right up top the point where a personal tragedy
strikes and compels her to re-define her outlook in life.
Naomi Watts breathes life into this character in a movie adaptation
directed by John Curran. We hear that Watts gives a luminous
performance in the film co-starring Edward Norton.
the end of the book, the character is faced with a sudden
heartbreak where readers will want to empathize with her.
is also where the book attempts to turn dramatic and engaging,
hoping to draw you into its richly-written plot.
this is where this reviewer decides to put himself in the
shoes of this poor woman as well. Because it is high time
he paid attention to these finer details in life.
“Her happiness, sometimes almost more than she could
bear, renewed her beauty. Just before she married, beginning
to lose her first freshness, she had looked tired and drawn.
The uncharitable said that she was going off. But there is
all the difference between a girl of twenty-five and a married
woman of that age. She was like rosebud that is beginning
to turn yellow at the edge of the petals, and then suddenly
she was a rose in full bloom.”
While we think that female readers will enjoy this book a
lot, male readers should also give it a go – because
of its descriptive prose and attention to the smallest details
in scenes which may bring pleasant surprises to your read.
by John Li