Good morning everyone! I think it’s high-time we start a little tradition here on HK Housewife. I adore traditions, always have, always will. I think it’s why I went to Notre Dame–they may be horrible at football, but they’ve got tradition down pact.
So here it is… every Friday (could be my Friday or could be yours if I’m slacking!) we’re going to look at a Chinese proverb. Today’s is:
“A book holds a house of gold.”
It’s not surprising that the Chinese believe education is the key to success. It’s a bit sad to think about how hard all the Chinese kids are working in school here to get ahead–many go six days a week and stay until after 5pm–while ours at home fall apart.
On a lighter note, the most beautiful photo ever:
So as it turns out, Nigella Lawson’s books are literally in a house of gold! Despite my love of the Kindle, in my dream house I will have a library just like this one. I am not the neatest person. I think genius thrives in a little bit of chaos and I still believe in good, old fashioned books–especially cookbooks! My favorite childhood memory is going through all of my Aunt Steph’s cookbooks–she has a legitimate library with a whole wall dedicated to cookbooks and every night when I stayed with her I would take a couple down to read in bed. From House & Garden (R.I.P) by way of the NeoTraditionalist, sent over to me by Katherine–thank you! If you haven’t checked out Katie’s great blog, you should pop over there and take a look.
Can you guess which one it is?
Didn’t think so!
It’s not even a book… it’s a MacBOOK pro. I’m pretty excited, both about a new computer and about this awesome case I found for it here. I think it’s so perfect that the newest technology is encased in disguise of the books of old that I love so much.
Not only is it super-protective, but you can keep the computer in its case while you work! Fun, huh?
Also on Krissy’s list of recommended books about China: Waiting by Ha Jin.
What I liked about it:
- This book went a long way to helping me understand what life has been like for the Chinese. The title could not be more accurate… life in China for the last fifty years has been a lot of patient waiting… waiting for something better to come along, for someone else to figure out whether traditional values or the party would win out, for the government to actually recognize its people as individuals, for reform to catch up to the needs of your personal life hopefully in your lifetime, for a better promotion to maybe or maybe not come your way, for a party official to decide to make you his wife–or not, for the leaders in power to die off, or for 18 years to pass so you can marry your first love.
- Patiently plodding through this rather slow moving book made me really realize how big of a luxury all the immediate gratification we have in the States is. In every way, but especially as related to the main storyline in this book: being able to decide whom to marry. Continue reading
So in ongoing preparation for this adventure, I’ve decided to read up on all things Asia. I felt woefully unprepared by both my education, as well as my personal reading for this trip because I’ve sadly read very little about this part of the world. I also miss my beloved book club back home in S.F. very much! So the first book I read was The Piano Teacher by Janice Y. K. Lee, given to me so very kindly by my book club member Krissy on a list of recommended books about Hong Kong.
What I liked about it:
- This is embarrassing to even admit, but I had NO clue what happened to Hong Kong during World War II. So as it turns out the British colony was occupied by the Japanese after 18 days of intense fighting by woefully under-manned British and Canadian troops. The Japanese then interned all of the expatriates for three years and 8 months. The best part of the book was feeling transported to Hong Kong during the forties and fifties–it switches back and forth, from past to present.
- It’s always very interesting to read about who people become when their survival is threatened… some rise to the occasion and others are only capable of looking out for their own skin. You can’t help but wonder who you would become if war ever arrived on your doorstep.
- I also, initially and only initially, related to the protagonist Claire Pendleton who has moved to Hong Kong from Britain for her husband’s job. Her initial impressions of the city were very similar to mine. Her descriptions of the Peak, the humidity, the markets, the intensity of street life… they all seem true decades later.
- Claire is a piano teacher for a wealthy Chinese family that lives on May Road. I took that to be a major sign as the apartment we were looking at was also on May Road. I’m a big believer in signs, but in the end I don’t think that apartment was meant for us! It’s very crazy to think that in the fifties there was a large multi-story home and compound there. Now there are half a dozen sixty-story apartment high rises.
- Being a romantic sap that gravitates towards the melancholy and depressing (the Mr. always comments on how all the music and movies I like are sad), I really appreciated how realistic the love stories were.
I noticed this memorial when walking through the HK Botanical Gardens the other day.
What I didn’t like about it:
- Although there are pieces of great writing, at the end of the day I feel like this is more of a beach read / page turner than a great novel, which depending on what you’re looking for could be a good thing.
- I think the characters were a little two-dimensional and although the book started off remarkably strong it seemed to peter off mid-way and ended unremarkably / predictably.
In short: 3.5 stars. It’s The Awakening meets The Painted Veil, both of which I really liked. Recommended for ladies looking to curl up on a rainy day with a romance that actually teaches you something about both world history and real-life relationships.