Thursday, June 23, 2016

Half a Lifelong Romance by Eileen Chang

Half a Lifelong Romance
Eileen Chang
3/5 stars

I was given this book by the Amazon Vine program in return for an honest review.

Half a Lifelong Romance was originally published in China in 1951, and is being translated into English for the first time. It follows the thwarted romance of a couple living in Shanghai in the 1930's.

The reader knows from the first page that the romance between Manzhen and Shijun was not a happy one and there is an air of melancholy from the first sentence ("He and Manzhen had met. . . a long time ago.") that continues throughout the book. Chang has done an excellent job in setting that mood and evoking the emotions that go with it.

The pace is slow, due to the massive amount of details given. These details cause the reader to become completely immersed in the lives of, as well as in the culture of, the characters. However, at times the details become overwhelming and detract from the flow of the story.

Overall, it is an exceptionally well written book, but is a very slow read.

Note: This is my opinion; on Amazon, 55% of the reviews were 4 stars.

On a personal note: I had looked forward to this book all year, after reading about it before it was published.  I've tried to get my library to buy it so I could read it and finally put it on my to-buy list.  When I started reviewing again and it was available, I was thrilled.  Imagine my disappointment when this much anticipated book turned out to be such a reading quagmire.  I gave it three stars because she is an excellent writer, but her style was not for me!

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