Title: Good Chinese Wife
Author: Susan Blumberg-Kason
Published: 2014; Pages: 337
Rating: Sigh. We’ll get to that.
In Short: While studying in Hong Kong as a young woman, Susan fell in love with Cai, a Chinese National, and after a short courtship they married.
Why I Read it: A Sourcebooks publicist contacted me to see if I would be interested. I saw “intercultural” and “memoir” and agreed.
Why I Almost Didn’t Finish Good Chinese Wife: You know that I don’t accept many books for review these days and when I do I am always fair and honest in my post. In fact, I would say that more often than not I am not absolutely bowled over by books I receive. About halfway through GCW I was ready to jump ship. I emailed the publicist to explain the situation but she’s out of the office until September. Go figure. What’s a reader to do?
But why didn’t I almost finish? I found myself irritated by the author and the predicament that she put herself into with her marriage to Cai. I felt judgmental, something I am rarely ever when reading a book, and I began to feel so negatively. This makes me feel like a terrible person, but I just didn’t care when the trainwreck of a marriage was heading. I think that my issues with the book stemmed from the writing style.
The memoir is obviously written with hindsight but it was so heavily input into the dialogue that I was constantly distracted by Susan’s questions about what might have been going on. Mostly, though, I wanted Susan to stand up for herself against her husband and for them to communicate more. It was when I wanted to reach into the pages of the book and start yelling at her that I knew I needed to just walk away. Again, I don’t usually react quite this strongly but it was a rather unsettling feeling.
Why I Did Finish Good Chinese Wife: In the end, curiosity got the better of me. And a little bit of guilt. I flipped through the next couple of chapters and some things of interest happened so I skimmed. And skimmed. And skipped stuff and read stuff until I finally got to the end. I’m glad that I “finished” the book as some of the things that bothered me in the first half were recognized by Blumberg-Kason. There are a lot of lessons to be learned from Susan’s story; I’m glad that she eventually learned those lessons herself and shared them with others..
Bottom Line: Good Chinese Wife wasn’t what I had hoped it would be, but the feedback on Goodreads is very strong. If you want my copy, holler and I’ll send it to you.
How quick are you to abandon a book? What about when that book is for a publicity tour?