Margaret M. (Chicago, IL)
The flowers of shanghai
This is a fun read that keeps your interest. I became Interested in Xiao Feng and her life. I felt I knew her!
This is a fun and informative story. It is a fast read.
The story includes mysteries and cultural information about the Chinese family before and after the revolution and at the same time is an interesting and captivating, particularly to women.
Sylvia J. (Los Angeles, CA)
It Could Have Been So Much More
I had really high expectations for this book, particularly as it indicates it is for fans of Lisa See and Memoirs of a Geisha. Those comparisons are highly off the mark so the main character Feng is never fully realized in the book as the author never gives her an opportunity to be fully dimensional in her character. It was highly unrealistic to me for her to go from a naive, positive young girl to such a bitter woman so quickly and never redeem herself. That made the book a disappointment to me along with the lack of historical details a out the Revolution itself that I and other readers would have enjoyed. With that said it was still a well written book but it lacked the sweeping story, detail and history I needed to recommend it to other readers.
Sadly, I was disappointed in this book. I wanted to like it. I wanted to love it. But....something was missing. The author tried to tie up the the loose ends but that made things even more confusing with more story lines added in.
Julie H. (Pine Grove, PA)
All the Flowers in Shanghai
This cultural novel was a disappointment to me. The novel was extremely narrow in its focus on Feng, the narrator of the story. Although it was set in China in the thirties, there was little detail in the novel about the setting, and I felt that omission was an error on the author’s part. Feng was a passive character that was not easily likeable. She was a kind, innocent child who only seemed to have things happen ‘to’ her. As she grew into adulthood when she did take action, it was mean spirited and bitter. There were times that the language of the novel changed from beautiful to crass and I found those changes distracting and disturbing. Overall, it was a dark book that offered little hope or meaning and left me feeling that it did not live up to its potential.
Jeanette L. (Marietta, GA - Georgia)
All the Flowers in Shanghai by Duncan Jepson
The story is told as a letter from Feng, the main character, to the daughter she abandoned at birth, thru flash backs we learn the story of her arranged marriage to the Sang family whose humiliations and cruelty turn Feng into a bitter, revengeful woman. All the flowers in Shanghai is full of tradition to not “ lose face” half way thru the story we are shown bits of Chairman Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution and the birth of the People’s Republic of China and some of the terror of his regime.
Feng is hard to love after her transformation from a sweet, quiet girl into a mean spirited, bitter and regretful woman. Book clubs will love this book; analyzing Feng should lead to great discussions
Patricia M. (Davidson, North Carolina)
A Mesmerizing Book
This beautifully written book could be categorized as Historical Fiction. I couldn't wait to read it each day. It depicts the Chinese people during a time before the Revolution. A very intimate portrayal and the reader becomes immersed in their everyday lives. The author brings you right into the story. I shed a tear when I finished the book as I didn't want it to end.
Ann W. (new york, NY)
All the Flowers in Shanghai
I read the whole book however, I was often annoyed. I had problems with Feng---she never grow while many of the others around her were more nuanced. Yes, Chinese tradition(s) are very different but in Shanghai, there was more awareness of a world beyond---even if one could only see it at a distant. Also, Feng's sudden realization of the world was unconvincing. Overall, however, I found the book provocative and thought about it.