Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Book Review - February Flowers
February Flowers is Fan Wu’s first novel, which makes it an even bigger triumph. If writers truly grow better with experience, I expect amazing things from this one. Normally, I don’t look into the author’s life very much while reading their work, but the fact that English is Ms. Wu’s second language really astounded me. Then again, it may be that the flavor of her native Chinese is the very thing that makes this work so enchanting. To find out more about her writing, you can visit her website at FanWuWrites Now, on with the review.
February Flowers is, in essence, a coming of age story. But there is so much more here than that simple explanation could encompass. The story centers on two girls in the same college in China and their friendship during a time when a strict, traditional environment is just opening up to a new and more modern mindset, especially for young women. The story is told through the eyes of Ming, the sedate bookworm who basks in the music of her violin and daydreams while Yan is outgoing and carefree, embracing her own sensuality without seeming to pay heed to any of society’s rigid sensibilities.
Perhaps Yan sums up their friendship best when she says, “I live inside and you live outside. Or the other way around. We can never live on the same side.” But the truth here seems to lie deep within the subtleties of the story; underneath the difference in disposition and background the two seem to share some commonalities of the heart.
Fan Wu’s writing style is delicate, bringing to mind the beautiful flowers which dot the balconies of Ming’s building. The phrasing and pace seem simple and forthright, yet there’s a poetry to the prose which can’t help but transport the reader into Ming’s world. I found the novel even more delightful than I expected at first glance and I’m more than a little happy that I chose to review it. For those who love Chinese culture, or simply enjoy a resonating voice in their reading fare, I highly recommend this one.
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