Monday, January 01, 2007

Women of the Silk by Gail Tsukiyama

I purchased this book used from eBay in October after Susie recommended it as a good book club selection. I picked it up now since I thought it would be an interesting follow-up to Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.

And so it was.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan ends in the 1920s just as Women of the Silk is beginning. Both books are set in the same general area of the country so many of the customs portrayed in Women of the Silk were already familiar.

Women of the Silk is the story of Pei, a headstrong, inquisitive middle daughter of a poor farmer who is sold to work in the silk factories to help her family survive a near famine. While this is traumatic for both Pei and her parents, in Pei's case, it turns out to be a positive and possibly life-saving move.

The book has a strong but subtle feminist streak and it does not dwell on the negative aspects of the silk workers' lives.

Neither the ups nor downs are presented in an overly emotionally gripping fashion but the author does create a well-crafted sense of foreboding towards the end of the book that enhances the book's page-turning appeal.

4.5 out of 5 stars

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