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A Hundred Flowers

A Novel

by Gail Tsukiyama

A Hundred Flowers by Gail Tsukiyama X
A Hundred Flowers by Gail Tsukiyama
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  • Published Aug 2013
    304 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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There are currently 26 member reviews
for A Hundred Flowers
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  • 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.
  • Peg S. (Durham, North Carolina)
    A Hundred Schools of Thought
    The structure of short passages, fully and continuously portraying each character gave a broad view of the of the change in a professor's family's life under Mao TseTung and communism. I considered this a kaleidoscopic view of an educated Chinese family, the changes in their large home and life with the kapoc tree in their courtyard. I loved this book and want to read more by Gail Tsukiyama.
  • Judy B. (Santa Fe,, NM)
    A Hundred Flowers by Gail Tsukiyama
    Gail Tsukiyama has done it again---written a most wonderful story. This is what I would call a "gentle" book........a book that "gently" tells you a story and "gently" brings you through some of life's worst moments and "gently" deposits you at the end, leaving you thinking "How wonderful is this story?"

    The story starts in the late 50's in China during the Cultural Revolution. A little boy named Tao falls out of a Kapok tree in his courtyard of his house and breaks his leg. Then you find out that his father has been taken away from the home and sent to be "re-educated." The time line of the story is from July, 1958 to November, 1958, but in that time all the characters are are fully sketched and their histories are fully known. The story is told from the viewpoint of several characters: Kai Ying, the mother; Tao, the little boy; Wei, the grandfather; and Song, the Auntie. Also there is a side story of Suyin and her baby, a young 15 year old girl who is taken in by the mother.

    The story builds until the grandfather confesses a secret that leads him on a journey and finally his return to the family home.

    A beautiful, wonderful, "gentle" story!!!
  • Judith S. (Santa Clarita, California)
    Resilience and stubbornness to survive
    “She marveled at nature's resiliency, its sheer stubbornness to survive.”

    Those are the thoughts of Auntie Song, one of the characters in Gail Tsukiyama’s newest book. It is the story of an extended family told from five different perspectives through a year of many changes. Some of the challenges they face are common to many lives; a child’s accident, grief at the death of a spouse, the birth of a child. Other concerns are unique to the cataclysmic social changes of Mao Tse-Tung’s regime.

    The family consists of Kai Ying, the mother of Tao, her elderly father-in law, Wei, and Auntie Song, a courtesy aunt who occupies a portion of their family home. As the year progresses a pregnant , homeless teenager joins the family. Much of the family’s unique distress is due to its absent member. Sheng, the husband, the father, the beloved son, has been arrested and sent to a distant reeducation camp.

    I liked all of these characters. They are very human in their strengths and weaknesses. Kai Ying has admirable sensitivity to her patients as she prepares her herbal remedies and Auntie Song’s optimism and strong survival instincts are inspiring. The book is somewhat slow and occasionally disjointed as the storytelling shifts from one person to another, but the overall picture of this family was very satisfying. They have nature’s resiliency and a sheer stubbornness to survive.
  • Amy L. (Tucson, AZ)
    Another Gentle Winner
    Gail Tsukiyama is an author I greatly admired. Her "Samurai's Garden" is one of my favorite books, for its exquisite prose, dignity, nobility and simplicity. "A Hundred Flowers" is marked by the same simplicity, nobility and dignity. Set during Mao's cultural revolution, it shows us the impact of the revolution from the multiple viewpoints of family members. Each narrator (boy, mother, grandfather and aunt/family friend) provides a unique view of the same events while revealing deeply personal information. It is a moving affirmation of life during a difficult period in Chinese history.
  • Patricia K. (Oak Park, California)
    A Hundred Flowers
    A Hundred Flowers is a gentle story of a Chinese family in the early years of China under Chairman Mao. When Kai Yang's husband Sheng is shipped off to a labor camp, the family could fall apart, but instead, they quietly learn to support each other with quiet dignity.

    I liked the book, especially watching how each member of the family was affected and how each, on their own terms, looked inward and grew stronger before they could come back together as a family.
  • Teresa M. (Naples, FL)
    A Hundred Flowers
    I've read two of the author's previous books and especially loved The Samurai's Garden. Tsukiyama is a gifted writer who creates wonderful characters reader's grow to love. I also enjoy learning something new, and in this book, we learn about Mao's "Hundred Flowers Campaign" started in the 1950"s, and used to flush out dissidents and subsequently imprison them.

    The story centers around a family torn apart by Mao's campaign, and one of the character's quotes nicely sums up the book, "Sometimes the best lessons are in the journey, regardless of the outcome."


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