When I first started to read this I was put off by the way it has been deliberately written in bad English. However once I got to grips with this and realised it was really a necessary and integral part of the novel I began to enjoy it much more, finding it both witty and charming.
Zhuang is twenty three years old and her parents have sent her to spend a year in London to learn English to enable her to return to China and help them expand their shoe factory business. The bad English grammar of the writing is essential as at first this is is how she communicates with no understanding of tenses or verbs, just armed with a dictionary. In fact it reminded me of when I first moved to Italy, completely out of my depth with the language.
It is a very poignant story as Zhuang coming from an Eastern culture to a Western one seems very naive of the ways of the new world she is now inhabiting. Unfortunately the older hippy that she meets, befriends and very quickly ends up living with is far from a perfect partner for her. His attitudes towards her, sex and life in general mean that learning about love is even more confusing for her than learning the language. I should maybe also point out here that are are a few scenes in this novel that are sexually explicit.
As Zhuang’s grasp of the English language becomes stronger she starts to question the attitude of her lover suspecting that her values are very different to his. The relationship is heading nowhere, although she has a strong desire for this not to be the case.
A sad but believable story about a young girls loss of innocence as East meets West.
Xiaolu Guo Author Profile
Xiaolu Guo was born in 1973 and is a Chinese novelist and filmmaker, who uses film and literary language to explore themes of alienation, memory, personal journeys, daily tragedies and develops her own vision of China's past and its future in a global environment.
The biographical information photo and the video used in this post are with thanks to the following websites.
Xiaolu Guo – Wikipedia, Xiaolu Guo - Official Website,
I have chosen to read this title as the letter C for this challenge which I have decided to attempt to achieve in alphabetical order. I have a good selection of titles to choose from our bookshelves, it will be interesting to see how far I can get before I get stuck. You can follow my progress here.