Planed to write a review...and finally have a little something...
I was browsing the shelves when this book popped into my hands. I didn't realize it wPlaned to write a review...and finally have a little something...
I was browsing the shelves when this book popped into my hands. I didn't realize it was a book in a series, a murder-mystery series. The book made no indication to me of the fact. Yet it worked as a standalone just fine.
Perhaps this book is a little different than others in the named Inspector Chen Cao series, as he was not the principal investigator in this murder. Instead he is working on a translation project and living a little better thanks to it and his "Little Secretary." There certainly are references to things I do not completely understand, such as these Little Secretaries and all that it means. Regardless, Inspector Chen does remain proper. He does have a hard time accepting all the little gifts that came with this translation project.
The book is centered more around the inspector's partner, Detective Yu, who hasn't gone very far with being in the police force. His family lives in the tiniest of places, sharing with his father. The book opens with Yu finding out the promised one-bedroom apartment was suddenly denied him on the day he was to get the key. Despite her disappointment, his wife Pequin helps tremendously with the case, as it is of a murdered author and Pequin loves reading.
This book revealed another world to me, so much is in here. The story about the murder and solving it really didn't matter to me. But the backdrop of China, and the changes it is undergoing was very interesting. The book also talked about the recent past and of 1920's multi-family dwellings. The Cultural Revolution was featured largely in the book as well, with the changing politics. Definitely someone more familiar with China would have an easier time understanding all the nuances in this book. But I learned a little and enjoyed it immensely.
I may look for more Inspector Chen Cao books, not sure how easy they are to find. But the first one is at my library and may be worth a look....more
This is truly a travel narrative. Gellhorn calls them horror journeys, selecting the worst of her traveling experiences for this book. Martha GellhornThis is truly a travel narrative. Gellhorn calls them horror journeys, selecting the worst of her traveling experiences for this book. Martha Gellhorn was an accomplished war reporter and was familiar with uncomfortable travel accommodations, but that was during war time. I got the sense she didn't like camping (refuses to while in Africa doing her own safari) and going to remote places could resemble camping.
The book starts out, after some introductions, with her desired trip to China. There aren't dates mentioned but she convinces her husband Ernest Hemingway to accompany her, which means sometime in early 1940s. (They were only married about four years.) The China trip is appalling in her descriptions, their main goal is really just to survive.
The bulk of the book covers her trip to Africa some years later. Traveling alone as a woman and for the sake of seeing what's there was quite unusual. Gellhorn has almost nothing good to say about West Africa, but things improve when she goes to the eastern African countries. Sometimes I had to cringe with her commentary about the blacks, she's not enlightened a bit. She keeps saying how the Whites need to leave the Blacks on their own, but in the end she sets up house there too in East Africa near the coast.
It's very well written and yes, horrifying in some of the descriptions. The level of writing is above most other travelogues I've read. Makes it feel like modern writing has deteriorated.