Flash Reviews: Three Novels (17th June 2014)

I Am China by Xiaolu Guo ****
Storyline: Two stories are intertwined here; Iona, a translator, is working her way through the correspondence of a pair of Chinese lovers, Jian and Mu.

‘I Am China’

1. The novel is so well written.  The letters between Jian and Mu are often filled with such beauty, and the third person perspective works wonderfully with the unfolding story.
2. I really liked the use of several different tales mixing with one another, each of them coming to the forefront of the novel at intervals.
3. The use of different cultures, and the way in which Guo outlined them, were so strong.

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Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks ***
Storyline: The novel begins in 1660 in Martha’s Vineyard, and deals with a teenage girl named Bethia and her family.  Caleb, who lives on a native settlement nearby, soon becomes involved with Bethia’s life in various ways.

1. Whilst the narrative voice was well built up, it did feel a little too modern in its style to work at times.
2. The sections which dealt with the ways in which the white English settlers got on with those who had been on the land for generations were interesting, and certainly form a strong backbone for the story.
3. Sadly, it did not seem as compelling or as well written as Brooks’ sumptuous The People of the Book, but for the historical perspective it offers, it is well worth a read.


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‘The Parrot Cage’

The Parrot Cage by Daphne Wright **
Storyline: The Parrot Cage takes place in the Second World War, and centres upon a young woman named Gerry, whose husband is away in Palestine.  He refuses to let her do anything to help the war effort, and it is only when she is offered a vital and top secret job that she feels satisfied.

1. Whilst I did not enjoy this as much as I had thought I would, it still makes an interesting read to take on holiday.  I read much of it whilst I was in Malta in May, and certainly found myself engrossed in some portions of it.
2. Some of The Parrot Cage is very well written and seemed to have been meticulously planned out, but at times it felt overly predictable, and the way in which things occurred was unlikely.
3. The entire cast of characters sadly felt a little lacklustre to me.


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