Advance reader reviews of All the Flowers in Shanghai by Duncan Jepson.

All the Flowers in Shanghai

A Novel

By Duncan Jepson

All the Flowers in Shanghai
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' rating:

  • Published in USA  Dec 2011,
    320 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book


Page 4 of 4
There are currently 22 member reviews
for All the Flowers in Shanghai
Order Reviews by:
  • Juddith B. (Omaha, Nebraska) Visitor to China


    Shanghai's Multiple Stories
    In his author's insight, Jepson states that in writing this book he wanted "to explore Chinese attitudes toward motherhood, children, and family." It is a story with multiple intentions. It can be viewed as a book about hatred, an expose of the Chinese opinion that women and children are replaceable, or as a story of cowardice.

    The city of Shanghai features as a dominate character. The storyline begins with a traditional Shanghai in 1932, and presents a diverse city with traditional Chinese values encountering European influences to the extent that locals cannot even take rooms in the luxury hotels. Shanghai moves from a city of elegance to a city busy with new hostilities after the Revolution.

    Running through the plot is a unifying reference to flowers. Feng's story begins in a garden with her beloved grandfather teaching her the Latin names of flowers. Throughout the book we encounter phrases such as "First Wife's breath was like a stale flower."

    As a debut novel Jepson does an admirable job of telling the story through the voice of a woman. Along with her story we get bits of wisdom suitable for framing, such as "You must live because someone wants you to live" and "Change becomes acceptable once you are accustomed to change itself."

    Unlike so many descriptions of Mao's China that cover the punishments dealt to intellectuals, the focus here is on the poor peasants. In this case it is a group of older women who become a full production unit charged with sewing trousers and shirts for the new order. They are told that there must be more enthusiasm for scarves as they are a unifying symbol of the movement. They take Feng in when she flees Shanghai, and they must all unlearn everything they had ever known: traditions, supersititions, and old philosophies. They become consumed by productivity.

    The book begins with Feng addressing someone. "I still know your face. I see it clearly as it was at the very beginning, not how it was left after I had hurt you." The reader does not get information about the identity of this face until the last third of the book.

    All in all, it is a good read albeit a bit ambitious in its scope.
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Promise
    The Promise
    by Ann Weisgarber
    Canadian author, Lucy Maud Montgomery of Anne of Green Gables fame, once wrote that "...all things ...
  • Book Jacket: Black Moon
    Black Moon
    by Kenneth Calhoun
    The popularity of book-turned-movie World War Z and television series The Walking Dead points to a ...
  • Book Jacket: Hyde
    Hyde
    by Daniel Levine
    In Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886 novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the story ends ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

Published Apr. 2014

Join the discussion!

Win this book!
Win The Steady Running of the Hour

The Steady Running of the Hour

"Exciting, emotionally engaging and amibtious. I loved it!" - Kate Mosse

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

I T T O A Eye

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.