This is a lovely little book, scarcely more than a novella, that tells the story of a young woman who meets a controlling and self-important idle rich...moreThis is a lovely little book, scarcely more than a novella, that tells the story of a young woman who meets a controlling and self-important idle riche on a holiday in Italy and proceeds to fall in love with him against her better judgment.
Like Hazzard's other novels it takes as its starting point the stuff of dime novel romance, but as everyone knows the tale is in the telling. Unlike her later novels, which are largely concerned with men, here Hazzard allows access to both the male and female parties of a relationship, allowing for an elaborate series of ironic contrasts between the shallow Italian convinced that he is drawing a girl into the great romance of her life, and the young Englishwoman who is at best only mildly enthusiastic, and whose eventual surrender to her lover arises less out of some great passion than a sort of entropy coupled with insecurity due to her sense of alienation in the midst of the Italian countryside.
Something that's particularly interesting about The Evening of the Holiday is the manner in which it deals with Hazzard's insecurities about being an Australian emigre living in Europe and America. While The Transit of Venus and The Great Fire are more explicit about this, presenting actual Australian characters, here Hazzard instead aligns her anxieties with those of the young Englishwoman - and thus avoids dragging this simple story of relationships into the political domain of her later work.
So, I quite enjoyed this - a beautifully written examination of the gaps between individuals and cultures, which may not say anything particularly new but which does say it all very well.(less)
"Give her a ying-and-yang haircut". Dieyi is ying, Xialou is yang, Juxian is the woman caught between them. 20th Century Chinese history is, as Lee po...more"Give her a ying-and-yang haircut". Dieyi is ying, Xialou is yang, Juxian is the woman caught between them. 20th Century Chinese history is, as Lee points-out, the story of several hundred millions of people dragged from the middle ages to the 21st Century in the space of eighty years purely on the basis of the motives of powerful individuals in a society where the citizen must fight for the right to individuality - and even this slim hope was denied under the Maoist regime and the Gang of Four. To blame such tragedies purely on the machinations of history is a bald-faced lie. Humans are the actors in the opera. Even in the midst of the cultural revolution Xiaolou (albeit foolishly) finds it in himself to perform a bandit character "incorrectly" to the delight of the audience and the chagrin of the Party.
The torture the three main characters suffer as children (the opera school for the boys, the brother for the Juxian) does in fact grant them the happiness they were promised. Then they are robbed by the vagaries of fate. The best way to sum-up this book, I feel, is to consider the implications for the egoist of the statement, paraphrased from the book: When has the nation ever cared for its citizens? (less)