Book Review : Three Sisters

Hello everyone. Apologies that this has been the first post in a couple of weeks, I’ve been itching to get my hands on a decent camera so I can post again! I thought I would write a book review today, for the first time – feedback is much appreciated on these types of posts!

I posted in December of the 25 Novels I read in 2015, and again in January including some of the novels and titles on my radar for 2016 as part of my New Year’s resolution to read 30 novels!

The Book

Three Sisters is a novel written by Bi Feiyu, and marks the first milestone in my journey of 30 novels. A short online synopsis I found described Three Sisters as [the] story of three very different young women struggling to find a place in Mao’s Communist China. Yumi, Yuxiu and Yuyang are in fact blood sisters, rather than sisters formed of bonds of friendship like the synopsis might imply. They belong to the Wang family village, where at the beginning of the tale focusing first on Yumi, their father, Wang Lianfang, acts as party secretary.

I purchased this book on kindle and had not given the synopsis a read prior to beginning, and so at first I thought the book was set at a time much longer ago than it actually is [1980s], which gives you a sense for how isolated and far behind in terms of social progress the People’s Republic of China truly is.

Marriages are still arranged as means of advancement of status, both economically and politically. Girls are considered devalued should their virginity not be intact at the point of their betrothal – an issue which rears it’s ugly head in different ways for each of the three young girls; and women are viewed as subservient and Children of little value unless born male.

The Plot

The book is split into 3, one book for each of the three sisters the story centers around.

Yumi, the eldest daughter, is strong minded, intelligent, and considered very highly in her village, especially after the birth of Hong Bing, her father’s 8th child and only son. Yumi steps up to the plate taking care of her little brother, also known fondly as little eight (Wang Lianfang had 7 daughters with his wife prior to the birth of his son).

The Family’s story begins with a match being made for Yumi to a young aviator, and thought not from a wealthy background, he is considered highly as he can conquer the sky. Yumi rapidly falls in love with him through writing to him, though she struggles communicating as she has not been to school to learn how to write and read properly.

Unfortunately, the family is thrown into chaos, as Party secretary Wang Lianfang is caught sleeping with the wife of another party member, and cannot be allowed to remain in his post. Shortly after this, two of her sisters, one of them Yuxiu, are snatched by some of the villagers and raped.

These events contribute to the termination of her engagement to her Aviator, and Yumi’s fate is redirected.

These events act a catalyst for Yuxiu and Yumi’s tales to split, then intertwine once more, as they face each other in a battle of wills and temperament.

Aside from the tale of Yumi and Yuxiu, we follow Yuyang, their younger and more intelligent sister (intelligence by the logic of the Communist party is the ability to memorise information, and recite it). She attends a boarding school with other girls, and there are tensions displayed between the girls thought to be ‘country’ and girls from the city.

What I thought

Once the realisation dawned that the novel was set in the 1980s, I was amazed at how easy it had been to mistake the era and setting for much earlier, if not even the century before.

Bi Feiyu’s writing style is very clear and unclouded by complicated imagery, yet manages to capture perfectly the sentiments, hopes and dreams of the women the narrative centres upon.

Whilst I initially admired Yumi, I felt that she had a tendency to be rather naive. Yuxiu irritated me initially and came across as manipulative, however as her tale ‘concludes’, I am left feeling sorry for her. Yuyang, likewise is a very naive young woman and yet is very level headed and the most relatable of the three.

I was disappointed that Yuyang’s tale did not overlap with Yumi’s or Yuxiu’s, as it in fact developed in it’s own right with no mention of Wang family village at all.

The novel is almost a snapshot of a short year period into the lives of these women at a strange and turbulent time for China, and we are left without knowing the fate of Yuxiu, Yuyang and Yumi, along with answers to the many dilemmas they faced during the novel. In spite of this, the novel was an engaging read, and I would recommend to people who have an interest in Eastern Literature and enjoy reading about the lives of women through the ages and through different political and socioeconomic lenses.

I hope you enjoyed my book review, and keep following for more as I progress through my list this year!

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2016 Reading List

Hi Everyone!

I posted just before Christmas summarising the novels I had read in 2015. it was my 2015’s New Year’s Resolution to read 25 novels in the year to come; why? Because I love reading, and books, always have. But with the easy distraction of social media (i’m addicted to Instagram and Pinterest…) I can find myself wasting chunks of time that would otherwise have been spent getting into a good book.

Read all about my 25 novels of 2015, featuring some thoughts on my favourites and pretty paperback flatlays!

I tried reading in bed before going to sleep, on public transport on the way into and on the way home from work, and sometimes, if I was lucky enough to get one, on my lunch break.

With all these chunks of time, plus time at weekends, 25 novels wasn’t really hard to achieve, and there were often up to 5-7 days at a time when I didn’t read at all and had a bit of a break.

This year I think I might aim for 30!

Any self-respecting book lover can have way more books at any given point than they can read at once, and I am no exception. I have a backlog of novels on my kindle, mainly the free classics or the 20p each novels that Amazon occasionally feature. I also have a stack of paperbacks I buy with all the right intentions.

I’ve pinned the book titles that I have so far on my list for this year onto my 2016 Reading list board- do you have any recommendations? Have you read any of these novels already? I’m nowhere near 30 yet, and as you can see they’re a real mixed bag! Help me out by making some suggestions in the comments below!

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25 Novels in a Year

Who doesn’t love reading? I’d wager that the sort of person who does not credit the merits of a good book isn’t worth wasting time on!

I made a New Year’s resolution last year to read 25 novels. Surprisingly, 2 books a month wasn’t really a challenge, and there were periods of up to a week where I didn’t read. Below are the titles of the books I read, including any opinions some might have sparked off.

The Silver Smith’s Wife 

an enjoyable read without any real depth. A murder mystery of sorts, but tangled up with social intricacies of Victorian London, class struggles, and a touch of supernatural that didn’t seem to sit right with me. 3/5

Outlander

This book was magical! Claire, a nurse who served in France on the battlefields of World War II, is transported back in time and thrown into the path of Jaime Fraser, some 300 years earlier. Scottish Clan feuds, fights, sex, romance… it has it all. I loved it so much I followed it up with the sequal. (There are 5 books in the series I believe) 5/5

Outlander: Dragonfly in Amber 

Picture of Dorian Gray

The Wizard of Oz

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When God was a Rabbit

A wonderful tale of a troubled family coming together through adversity. As a reader, I was a person stuffed into a cupboard and watching this beautifully complex family interact with one another whilst I held my breath as I peered through the key hole. 5/5

The Miniaturist

A bit of a let down for me. This book tried to take on so many issues in 15th century Holland – Homosexuality, Race, Mixed race children, Religion, social conduct… but dealt with them all in a poor conclusion. The imagery is beautiful, however the real question of the identity of the miniaturist is never satisfactorily answered, and the main character is a little irritating. 3/5

Frankenstein

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Matilda

The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden

A beautiful follow up from the writer of “The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared”. Similar in style, and no less delightful. 4/5

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime

The Fault in Our Stars

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H is for Hawk 

I ADORED this non-fiction book, capturing the author’s struggle with her grief following her father’s untimely death, and with her newly adopted Goshawk. It’s because of this book that I am adding The Goshawk by T H White to next year’s list.

The Earthquake Bird

The Remains of the Day

Eastern Jewel

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The Gospel of Loki

A great easy read if you’re into the Avengers. Loki is given a new dimension, though none so much as Thor. A good short read that is sure to bring a chuckle or two. 3/5

Mendelsohn in on the Roof

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Far From the Maddening Crowd

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 The Bees 

This was so interesing. I love bees anyway, and this book brought their world of the Hive to life in a way I could never have imagined. A must read for anyone wanting to try something a little different, and for any self-respecting Entomologist!

Clariel

Prequel to the much loved Abhorsen Series. A quick read, mainly because this is still teen fiction, and I am no longer a teen! Reawakened my love for the original tales so much more. Great story, but not quite there. 4/5

1984

Only read this for the fist time, and I was stunned by it’s relevance even today. This book should be on the mandatory reading list for society. 5/5

Sum

Talk to the Tail 

Tom Cox, creator of the well loved @MYSADCAT account, has written 4 books about his adventures with his many cats. Laugh out loud funny, easy to read, and so relatable for anyone who has cats of their own or even knows anything about the cats exploits from following on Twitter. 5/5

 

New Year’s Resolutions

Does anyone else not really bother with New Year’s Resolutions? Or do you make them in earnest, and never really keep them?

I decided that as the New Year coincided with a new promotion and new responsibilities, that my New Year’s Resolutions should be somehow tied in, to keep me motivated!

However, NYRs tend to be shoddy rhetoric-driven scraps of promises that we make to ourselves. Why do we let ourselves down so readily?

 

Create Good Habits

Many NYRs are never realised because they were never measurable in the first place!! At work we are set SMART objectives (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time bound) and this should also apply to objectives and goals that we set for ourselves.

Motivational writers often talk about forming good habits rather than trying to go hell for leather in the first few weeks and “failing”.

Set some goals that are easy to achieve (but not too easy!) then ramp things up a little, piece by piece. Before you know it, a new activity or behavior will feel like second nature, and become part of your routine.

If something isn’t working for you, that’s OK too. If you’re giving up on something, be sure to at least analyse the reasons why you are doing so, to try and at least take a lesson away from it all.

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I’ve written down some ideas I’ve had for mine this year!

Power dress

Look good, feel good. A universal truth. If you feel good, you are confident (but not arrogant) and confidence radiates outwards and can have a positive impact on everything you do.

With my new promotion I figured that I should dress to impress (and impress only myself, I’m not doing it for anyone else’s benefit, mind you).

So today, I did a little shopping in Zara….

(this one isn’t measurable, unless I commit to spending £100 a month on clothes at least. Something I can definitely manage!)

Hobbies not Weight Loss

My weight fluctuates by 1-2 Kgs throughout the year and it doesn’t tend to be a pressing issue for me. There are times when I wish I was a little thinner, trimmer and in general more healthy, but that’s a maelstrom of highly complex biochem and I ain’t going there.

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Instead, I want to find hobbies that I enjoy that just so happen to be exercise. Dancing, Yoga and squash are things I want to try out doing more often. If I can be active at least 3 times a week, that doesn’t disrupt my schedule too much and will most likely keep me healthy and happy.

Show my husband how wonderful I think he is

I have a great, supportive and kind husband who I just don’t shout about enough. I can be quick to temper at times, and he is the person in my life who least deserves it. I want to commit to taking him for lunch when he least expects it, leaving him notes, helping him with his routine if he is stressed or running behind. These things don’t all cost money, and only go to show that I value him, and want to help him because I love him more than anything else.

Read 25 novels

This is a repeat objective from last year, which I smashed by 3 extra books. I LOVE reading, and it is not a chore for me at all. However at times I can be distracted by social media, at bed times or on public transport, when that time could better be put to use by diving into a book.

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Does anyone else have any NYR inspiration?

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Christmas books

To me,  it’s not Christmas unless you get books! Last year I got a kindle from my parents but I do still like getting paperbacks. Nothing will ever replace the book in my heart!

This year I got 3 amazing books from family. 

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A classic in a new and beautifully designed hardback cover- The Wizard of Oz!

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A book for the adventurous cook- that’s definitely not me really,  but it might coax me into being a little more adventurous in the kitchen! This book is cute because it has pink edged pages too!

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from the author of ‘the Hundred year old man who climbed out of the window and disappeared’,  I’m really excited to read ‘the girl who saved the king of Sweden’.  If you’ve never heard of the former it’s an amazing read! A wonderfully refreshing tale of adventure through hour history as we know it….

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and got the books you wanted,  too!

Jess xxx

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