It seems common in Chinese historical fiction for a female main character to go through a great amount of suffering. I suppose it was a "nice" changeIt seems common in Chinese historical fiction for a female main character to go through a great amount of suffering. I suppose it was a "nice" change in this piece of Taiwanese historical fiction for a man to have the suffering instead. And he certainly had to face a lot of difficult challenges in this novel!
I really enjoyed the setting of this novel, much of it taking place in a Taiwan that many people in American don’t know about. I showed a friend the description of the book, and she remarked, "Saburo doesn’t sound like a very Chinese name to me." The Japanese occupation of Taiwan isn’t often studied in schools here, but it’s important because the influences remain very strong in the country to this day. I enjoyed reading about the Taiwan of the Japanese, followed by what happened when the Chinese Nationalists took over.
Another bright spot in The Third Son is the main character of Saburo. He is an untraditional scholar, a hands-on self-learner instead of a proper student. He is rebellious and speaks his mind, and he is forced to aim for success in unconventional ways. It brought a smile to my face each time his true intelligence managed to win over politics or trickery. His character is one that is very different from the Asian male stereotype.
Though I was constantly rooting for Saburo to succeed, I didn’t feel a strong emotional connection, especially in relation to the love story between him and Yoshiko. This was the main thing that kept the book from being one that I absolutely loved. However, I still enjoyed it a lot, and I look forward to reading more from this author....more
This book tells the story of an affair -- or more specifically, a crucial week of an affair -- from the perspectives of the wife, the husband, and theThis book tells the story of an affair -- or more specifically, a crucial week of an affair -- from the perspectives of the wife, the husband, and the mistress. It doesn't break any new ground, but the storytelling is still very satisfying to read. The different perspectives are believable and realistic, and I enjoyed seeing how things that would seem so clear from one perspective ended up being completely different from another. There are no true heroes or villains in this story, only people who love and hurt each other as years of choices reach a point where they can no longer be ignored.
The Dervish tells of events leading up to the creation of the Republic of Turkey through the eyes of a Western artist named Mary Di Benedetti. There aThe Dervish tells of events leading up to the creation of the Republic of Turkey through the eyes of a Western artist named Mary Di Benedetti. There are a lot of historical details mentioned in the book. Having recently taken an online course on world history, it was interesting to me to see names I recognized from my class appear as characters in this novel. The descriptions of various places in the Ottoman Empire made the setting come alive for me.
Despite this (or perhaps in a way because of it), I didn’t fully connect to the characters and plot. There’s a lot of action and suspense, as Mary is intimately involved in pivotal events and constantly in danger. Some of it had me eager to find out what happened next, but sometimes the pace lagged and I got lost in the details. Mary has love and grief to deal with. I felt like the grief was handled well, but the love could have been left out and the story might have been stronger.
Disclaimer: I received an ARC copy through Netgalley...more