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Reviews of Peach Blossom Spring by Melissa Fu

Peach Blossom Spring

A Novel

by Melissa Fu

Peach Blossom Spring by Melissa Fu X
Peach Blossom Spring by Melissa Fu
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Mar 2022, 400 pages

    Paperback:
    Feb 2023, 400 pages

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About this Book

Book Summary

A "beautifully rendered" novel about war, migration, and the power of telling our stories, Peach Blossom Spring follows three generations of a Chinese family on their search for a place to call home (Georgia Hunter, New York Times bestselling author of We Were the Lucky Ones).

"Within every misfortune there is a blessing and within every blessing, the seeds of misfortune, and so it goes, until the end of time."

It is 1938 in China and, as a young wife, Meilin's future is bright. But with the Japanese army approaching, Meilin and her four year old son, Renshu, are forced to flee their home. Relying on little but their wits and a beautifully illustrated hand scroll, filled with ancient fables that offer solace and wisdom, they must travel through a ravaged country, seeking refuge.

Years later, Renshu has settled in America as Henry Dao. Though his daughter is desperate to understand her heritage, he refuses to talk about his childhood. How can he keep his family safe in this new land when the weight of his history threatens to drag them down? Yet how can Lily learn who she is if she can never know her family's story?

Spanning continents and generations, Peach Blossom Spring is a bold and moving look at the history of modern China, told through the story of one family. It's about the power of our past, the hope for a better future, and the haunting question: What would it mean to finally be home?

Origins

Tell us, they say, tell us where you're from.

He is from walking and walking and walking. He is from shoes filled with holes, blistered toes and calloused heels that know the roughness of gravel roads and the relief in straw, in grass. He is from staying each night in a different place, sometimes city, sometimes country. From roads that wrap around mountains and dip through valleys. From waterways shrouded in fog and mist.

He is from walking across China.

Tell us your memories, they say.

He remembers kerosene lamps burning low, the smell of woodsmoke, cold stone floors under his bare feet. Urgent voices, the rasping of coins, carts creaking at night. He remembers a sandalwood puzzle picture. One way up, there were one hundred monkeys. Turn it over, there were ninety-nine. How did that monkey appear and disappear? He is from this mystery.

Tell us more, they say as they nestle by his side. How did you come here?

He crossed rivers. He crossed oceans.

...

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!
  1. What purposes do Meilin's scroll stories serve throughout the narrative? What do they mean to Meilin? In what ways do they shape the person Renshu/Henry becomes?
  2. How do ideas from Tao Qian's poem 'Peach Blossom Spring' echo with larger themes in the novel? What was your reaction when Henry discovered how the original poem differed from Meilin's version? Why did Meilin change the story?
  3. What was your favorite fable in the novel? Was there one lesson that resonated with you more than the others?
  4. Languages are important in this book. How is language used both to bring people together as well as keep people apart?
  5. On p.89, Longwei tells Meilin, 'China has become a chessboard.' What does he mean? How does ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

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Fu not only looks at the historical events, she also examines the consequences and generational impact of the trauma associated with the war, aftermath and political fallout. Sensitive subject matter is carefully handled. The passion the author has for this story is evident in her research and attention to detail (Mitzi K). I absolutely loved this book. Melissa Fu evoked a time and place I am wholly unfamiliar with by using language as delicate and precise as the artistry of the Chinese handscroll that figures so prominently in Meilin's story (Elizabeth VF). I thoroughly enjoyed reading Peach Blossom Spring and will recommend it to my many book-loving friends and members of my book club (Doris K)...continued

Full Review (617 words)

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(Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).

Media Reviews

Shelf Awareness
Richly described...deeply compassionate...a haunting tribute to immigrant families and a gorgeous meditation on how stories can shape identity.

Kirkus Reviews
It is a weakness that the plot moves so fast, causing action to take precedence over suspense and nuance. The author plumbs the immigrant experience, illuminating a key slice of Chinese history from Japan's invasion to Mao's rise.

Publishers Weekly
[T]he author devotes long sections to each protagonist, slowing the frenetic pace to focus more on character development, which yields a stronger second half. The result is an affecting if somewhat scattershot tale of love, loss, estrangement, and heritage.

Author Blurb Christy Lefteri, author of The Beekeeper of Aleppo
I absolutely adored this novel about love and war, migration and belonging... . During moments of deep sadness and loss, there is also beauty - the beauty of enduring love, of identity, of hope. Melissa Fu portrays the time, the culture, the place and the struggles of this family so vividly, with nuance and color and life. Her writing is subtle and powerful, it stays with you, it follows you like the smell of the peach blossoms, it evokes emotions and questions and enlightens you. This is such a stunning achievement!

Author Blurb Georgia Hunter, New York Times bestselling author of We Were the Lucky Ones
A beautifully rendered meditation on the trials and triumphs of a family torn apart by war, Peach Blossom Spring left me pondering how the stories we choose to pass down have the power not only to define us, but to buoy us—to help us persevere through the most challenging of times.

Author Blurb Nguyen Phan Que Mai, author of The Mountains Sing
Magical, and powerful, Peach Blossom Spring brings to life the costs of wars and conflicts while illuminating the spirit of human survival. Inspired by her father's real-life experiences and her determination to comprehend her family's past, Melissa Fu has gifted us with a timely, moving, and universal novel.

Reader Reviews

Anthony Conty

Chinese and Taiwan...It's Complicated
“Peach Blossom Spring” by Melissa Fu starts in a haphazard, chaotic way that only tales of war can. China is under siege by the Japanese, and the war tears Renshu’s family apart in more ways than one. American history classes did not talk much about ...   Read More
Karen S. (Orlando, FL)

A Beautiful Story
Melissa Fu presents a beautiful story of family, love, resilience, and determination through the eyes of a young mother and her son. This historical fiction takes us across China, Taiwan, and the United States over the course of 50 years. The book ...   Read More
Mary O. (Boston, MA)

A Chinese Chronicle
An outstanding historical debut spanning three generations in modern China. At times heartbreaking, at times uplifting. You are confronted with war, misfortune and issues of immigration. We are always a product of our history and the choices we make....   Read More
Mary B. (St Paul, MN)

Peach Blossom Spring
This was an incredible book. From the very beginning it held me in. The story is divided into sections by years, starting in 1938 and ending in 2005. Each section could have been its own novel. I was left wanting to know more about each time frame! ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Chinese Handscrolls

The family at the center of Peach Blossom Spring carries a handscroll with them as they flee their home in the Hunan Province of China during the Second Sino-Japanese War. The scroll illustrates a fable, the significance of which grows and changes for main character Renshu over the course of his life. The handscroll has been a form of art and narrative storytelling in China since the Spring and Autumn period (770-481 BCE). They were initially made with bamboo or wood, but during and after the Eastern Han period (25-220 CE), silk and paper became the predominant materials used. Earlier handscrolls feature ink drawings and writing, but during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE), watercolors became the primary medium. Over the years, Chinese ...

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