Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Ginger Tree by Oswald Wynd and Women of the Silk by Gail Tsukiyama

If you're looking to cozy up with some women empowerment reads, I have a couple here that really compliment each other. I didn't purposefully read them back to back, but once finished with both I realized how much they had in common. Women of the Silk tells the story of a young woman, Pei, who is sent to work in silk factory to help support her poor family while The Ginger Tree focuses on a  Scotswoman, Mary, who is sent to China to be married off to a British military man. Both novels take place in primarily the early 1900s and depict the difficult life for a woman, no matter her culture or upbringing, in these times.

Pei is a strong child and her fate seems to be sealed in this very characteristic. Her parents live a simple and impoverished life and choose to send her to a silk factory to help as opposed to their other daughter because they know Pei will be able to thrive in this forced situation. Although confused and too naive to know what the "abandonment" was regarding, Pei is able to thrive and grow in the silk factory. Her experiences and the people with whom she builds strong relationships with assist in forming the adult Pei. Thanks Mom Vitale for the recommendation!

I must say, this was a great random thrift buy. The book and the author sounded interesting and I'm always up for some British drama. (Ironically, in googling this image I came across the series adapted from the book - need to get my hands on that!!) Mary Mackenzie is a young Scotswoman with a somewhat cold relationship with their mother. It seems they respect each other and she wants to please her mother but their letters back and forth are quite formal with the exception of moments where Mary decides to shock her mother with updates on her life and who she's sharing her time with. Her story is told through journals and letters and she never ceases to surprise as she begins making her own choices as she gets older - they aren't always the best choices but, as the reader, you almost feel like she goes from one prison (marriage to a man she doesn't respect or love) to another (leading a shunned life). One hopes she finds herself, her passions. 

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