Rated of 5
by Annette S. (Duluth, GA) A Hundred Flowers
Another winner from Gail Tsukiyama. The story is told from multiple points of view and you learn about the daily life and culture of a Chinese family during Mao's Communist regime. This is an enlightening novel that shares insight into the struggles of an ordinary Chinese family during the 1950"s. With no hesitation it is a 5 star read.
Rated of 5
by Susan Q. (East Williston, NY) Captivating
As with every other novel by this great author, I was hooking from the beginning. Character development, plot and story line are on target. The ending wasn't as developed as would have hoped, but don't let deter you from picking up this book!
Rated of 5
by Carole A. (Denver, CO) A Bouquet of Flowers
It is always exciting for another Gail Tsukiyama to appear! I enjoy her skill with language and the ability to build a plot and characters that draw you into the book from the beginning. A Hundred Flowers was no exception to this expectation. It offered a bouquet of language, setting, plot and characters. Yes, I always want more information about the characters and the situations. One test for me of an enjoyable book is finishing and wanting more - the next chapter. Perhaps the next book. The facts about China at this period and time were interesting and gave a good insight as to what the citizens were enduring. Certainly the story was specific to China at this time but in a broader sense many of the emotions and situations encountered by the characters held true for other people in other countries. Tsukiyama gives a true vision of what extended family should mean and how it enhances life for the very young thru the golden years. A Hundred Flowers would make a good Book Club selection for the discussions of China as well as how the personal life situations encountered are handled.
Rated of 5
by Diane L. (Huntsville, AL) Engaging novel but left me hanging
A Hundred Flowers is a simple yet elegant novel set in China during the months of July through November of 1958. The book begins with the young boy Tao and his mishaps from climbing a tree. The author uses the framework of an unfolding flower to advance the story--Tao first speaks, then his mother, grandfather, onward to close friends, to strangers who intersect the growing story. Having different people speak about the developing stories is very engaging.
My problem with the book is that I feel the author has established a wonderful "tree" structure for the book but has failed to fully develop the "flowers". Only Tao and his grandfather Wei are given below the surface character development. Everyone else is a bare "branch".
The novel does resolve the major question of the story, what happened to Tao's father, but I felt the story left many questions about the characters (including Tao!) unanswered. It was like the author decided the tree was sketched and that was all she had to do; we would enjoy speculating on the rest.
If you like a light read and are comfortable with open endings, you will enjoy this book. If you are like me and don't like loose endings, I'd advise you to look elsewhere.
Rated of 5
by Gwen C. (Clearfield, PA) A Hundred Flowers
This book drew me in from the first page. The story is told from the perspectives of different characters ( a popular trend, and used to advantage here) and encompasses five months in 1958 with one Chinese family's struggles in the aftermath of the Communist Party's rise to power. I'm no student of Chinese history or politics, but Gail Tsukiyama seamlessly introduced the necessary backstory into her tightly woven, wonderful plot. A momentous misunderstanding of a person's name, father-son relationships, Chinese lore and stories, and much more make for a fascinating read, with a satisfying - yet totally realistic - conclusion. As a language lover I couldn't resist underlining many beautiful and illuminating phrases and I thoroughly enjoyed the occasional Chinese words intermingled in the text. This would be an excellent read for book clubs. My only criticism is I wished for a map - and could not tear myself away from the book to look up locations.
Rated of 5
by Judith B. (Omaha, Nebraska) Fails to Deliver
Having enjoyed "Women of the Silk" and being a frequent traveler to China, I was eager to read Tsukiyama's latest. However, the two-dimensional characters failed to engage me, and I really didn't care about the outcome. The book did fulfill my expectations in portraying how devastating the late 1950s were for the people of China. The flow of the plot was awkward due to the short chapters and constant switching of character focus. Fortunately each chapter was designated with the character's name. At times I felt as if I were reading a journalistic account rather than a novel. The book should appeal to readers who enjoy an overview of modern China. It is an appropriate choice for book group discussions as there are many insightful comments about life in China.
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