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Jalilah | 4439 comments Mod
This thread is for Bound byDonna Jo Napoli starting May 15 to July 14, spoilers allowed!


Katy (kathy_h) | 852 comments A quick read for me. The only others I've read by Napoli are Spinners and Zel. They are all very different.


Jalilah | 4439 comments Mod
Kathy wrote: "A quick read for me. The only others I've read by Napoli are Spinners and Zel. They are all very different."

I see you liked it more than Zel! I just picked up my copy of Bound!


message 4: by Katy (last edited May 15, 2015 01:28PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Katy (kathy_h) | 852 comments I read Zel so long ago -- time for a reread to remember why it did not resonate with me at the time.

I really did enjoy Bound and its Chinese flavor.


message 5: by Jalilah (last edited May 17, 2015 06:55PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jalilah | 4439 comments Mod
Kathy wrote: "A quick read for me. The only others I've read by Napoli are Spinners and Zel. They are all very different."Kathy wrote: "I read Zel so long ago -- time for a reread to remember why it did not resonate with me at the time.
I really did enjoy Bound and its Chinese flavor."


I agree, it is a fast and enjoyable read! I am not sure how to rate it. 3 or 4 stars? While I did like it, I am not sure if I'd ever read it again.

I too appreciated the Chinese setting. I don't know how accurate it was, but I did read in the afterword that Donna Jo Napoli worked in China and spent time researching the original Chinese Chinderella tales.

As with many retellings I found certain parts unbelievable, in this case the way she answers the prince. In an original tale I don't tend to question anything, but for some reason in retelling I do. Regardless, I still like the way Xing Xing held her own!

But one thing...the part where Xing Xing is in the boat and the Captain makes funny faces in front of the mirror and wants her to do it too. What on Earth was that about?


Katy (kathy_h) | 852 comments Jalilah wrote: "...the part where Xing Xing is in the boat and the Captain makes funny faces in front of the mirror and wants her to do it too. What on Earth was that about?..."

Yes, I wondered too -- I wonder if it has something to do with the original tale and a cultural thing that I just don't understand?


Katy (kathy_h) | 852 comments For me, this is a story I would probably read again. Not a favorite, but one I could return to.


Melanti | 2125 comments Mod
Kathy wrote: "Jalilah wrote: "...the part where Xing Xing is in the boat and the Captain makes funny faces in front of the mirror and wants her to do it too. What on Earth was that about?..."

Yes, I wondered to..."


Me too! I poked around a bit online looking for folklore regarding mirrors but didn't see anything that looked like it would apply.

Here's the wiki article on the variant this is based off of: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ye_Xian

That whole side plot about selling the figs isn't mentioned (and thus, the mirror isn't mentioned either).

I'm trying to decide between 3 and 4 stars myself!


Melanti | 2125 comments Mod
And was anyone else half expecting Yao Wang to follow up his name with "and I have a slight flaw in my character"?

No? Just me?

I really ought to finish that series someday!


Margaret | 3667 comments Mod
I finished Bound tonight, and like several of you, it was a fast, good read, and I wavered between giving it a 3 or 4 star rating! But while I did enjoy it and will read more by her (this was my first of hers), I doubt I'll re-read this one, and it felt a bit rushed, particularly there at the end. Only a chapter for the whole shoe fitting/prince?

Did anyone else make a face when the raccoon bit her step-sister's toes off? Was not expecting that!

I was thrown off somewhat by the side plot with the figs and the doctor. I wondered how that would all tie in--if maybe the doctor would show up again and Xing Xing decide she wanted to study with him, or if her step-sister would marry him, or something. It was kind of odd how it was never tied into the main story. Anyone else feel that way?

I have no idea what the whole making faces thing was about! She did it with the slave boy in the wagon as well. Hmm.


Melanti | 2125 comments Mod
Margaret wrote: "It was kind of odd how it was never tied into the main story. Anyone else feel that way?..."

Definitely! I kept waiting for it to tie in, and then when it didn't, I assumed it was part of the original story, and then that theory didn't pan out either. Maybe it's a motif from another Chinese folktale that she added in to pad the story out a bit?


Jalilah | 4439 comments Mod
Margaret wrote: "I was thrown off somewhat by the side plot with the figs and the doctor. I wondered how that would all tie in--if maybe the doctor would show up again and Xing Xing decide she wanted to study with him, or if her step-sister would marry him, or something. It was kind of odd how it was never tied into the main story. Anyone else feel that way.."

I felt exactly the same way Margaret!


message 13: by Katy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Katy (kathy_h) | 852 comments Yes, but we have all done some exploring trying to figure it out!


Margaret | 3667 comments Mod
True!


message 15: by Katy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Katy (kathy_h) | 852 comments We all seem to be about in the same place with the story. I really thought perhaps I was missing something somehow when I read it -- but it looks like we have the same questions.


Lacey Louwagie | 236 comments I thought the side story with the doctor was kind of strange, too -- I thought of its "main" purpose as being to keep Xing Xing away from home longer than intended -- so it was just a way to consume some days. I can't remember what directly followed that sequence, though -- was it crucial to the story that she be gone that long? Gosh, I just read it and already the details are dropping out of my brain!

I thought the ending felt a little rushed, too -- it didn't give me a ton of faith that she would really be "happy" with the prince, since that relationship wasn't developed at all and in the little bit we saw of him it was hard to get a handle on his character. I wanted a little more behind his own search for the girl who fit the shoe -- he seemed to be pursuing it just as some sort of curiosity, never having even seen Xing Xing like in most versions of the Cinderella story.

I've noticed other Cinderella retellings that squeeze the ball and slipper in at the end, too -- if I recall correctly, Ella Enchanted did the same thing, but in that case the relationship was developed beforehand. Perhaps authors feel that it's an obligatory part of the story so they don't feel as much a need to dwell on it -- we all know that part -- but I think that some people read retellings to really savor those familiar moments.


Margaret | 3667 comments Mod
Lacey wrote: " I thought the ending felt a little rushed, too... I've noticed other Cinderella retellings that squeeze the ball and slipper in at the end, too"

I was thinking about that when I read the end as well, how most Cinderella retellings don't spend much time at the end, but then I couldn't think of any examples! Ever After? I agree, if the protagonist gets to know the prince first it's fine, but Xing Xing hadn't even met him before the whole shoe fitting. However, that was probably normal in China during that time period, so maybe the author was trying to reflect the realities of marriage, when many women never met their husbands before marriage. At least Xing Xing had a brief encounter with him!


Melanti | 2125 comments Mod
Lacey wrote: "I wanted a little more behind his own search for the girl who fit the shoe -- he seemed to be pursuing it just as some sort of curiosity, never having even seen Xing Xing like in most versions of the Cinderella story...."

That part was true to the original tale. In this variant, the prince falls in love with her, sight unseen, just because she has a small foot. I agree, a bit more about him - whether it be about his search for her or a more convincing getting to know her after the shoe fitting would have been nice.

Margaret wrote: "I was thinking about that when I read the end as well, how most Cinderella retellings don't spend much time at the end, but then I couldn't think of any examples!..."

Most books I've seen just work in some extra interaction with the prince throughout the book.

The only time I can think of that shows much past the end of the original tale are books dedicated to "what happens next?" Things like Nobody's Son or The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, etc. Actually, that would be a fun Listopia to make! "After the happily ever after" perhaps?


Margaret | 3667 comments Mod
Melanti wrote: "Actually, that would be a fun Listopia to make! "After the happily ever after" perhaps?"

That would be fun! I don't think I've read much that takes place after the fairy tale.


message 20: by Susan (new) - added it

Susan Chapek | 217 comments Melanti wrote: "I agree, a bit more about him - whether it be about his search for her or a more convincing getting to know her after the shoe fitting would have been nice."

I would say, either that or--since, as Martha points out, "that was probably normal in China during that time period, so maybe the author was trying to reflect the realities of marriage, when many women never met their husbands before marriage"--maybe we could have heard a bit more about what a girl looked for or hoped for in a husband.

We got a hint here or there, but not as I recall from Xing Xing--I believe her sister said something that made a fat husband sound desirable. But a few more judgments from Xing Xing along the way, about the kinds of male faces and beards she finds agreeable--that would have helped me get a picture of what to expect of Prince Charming.


message 21: by Susan (new) - added it

Susan Chapek | 217 comments Kathy wrote: "A quick read for me. The only others I've read by Napoli are Spinners and Zel. They are all very different."

Previously I read her Zel, which I did not at all care for (I don't recall in detail why not), and Song of the Magdalene, which I liked 75% of (the last 25% confused me and I didn't get the closure I think I was meant to get).

So I opened this book with trepidation. Possibly would not have continued, if it hadn't been the group read. In the end, like others here, I hover between 3* and 4* because while I enjoyed and admired some aspects of it, and some sections of it, immensely, I would not reread it.


message 22: by Furienna (last edited Dec 23, 2017 05:43PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Furienna | 3 comments Yes, I believe that the sub-plot with Xing Xing travelling and meeting the doctor, since it seems to have be the author's own idea, indeed is padding. But it was really needed to make an otherwise very short story a bit longer (the novel is only around 180 pages long, and that is after the sub-plot was added). And it also gives Xing Xing a well-deserved opportunity to be free for a while, have some adventure and see new things. And she would never have been able to do anything like this, if she only had stayed at home with her sister and and her stepmother.

I used to feel that the ending is rushed too. But now, I look at it in a more positive light. I suppose that we find it rushed because we have become so used to stories, where the lovers have to spend some time together before getting married. And love at first sight is seen as stupid and unrealistic these days. But like a previous poster wisely pointed out, people in Medieval China (where the norm was that the parents arranged a marriage for their child) hardly would have known their spouses before the wedding. So it would have been a progress for a couple to meet even once before the wedding. Not to mention that Xing Xing and the Prince decide for themselves, that they will get married to each other. That must have been really extraordinary.

Neither do I believe that Xing Xing will be unhappy in her marriage, because she didn't know the Prince before they just decide to get married. They seemed to click with each other immediately. And he was totally okay with every single thing, that she brought up as a "problem" (her education, her not having bound feet, etc). After all, this is meant to be a fairy tale. So yes, there will be a happy ending.


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