PEACH BLOSSOM SPRING
By Melissa Fu
BBC Radio 2 was kind enough to send me a copy of Melissa Fu’s debut novel. I was thrilled to read Peach Blossom Spring and participate in their book club. Click here to listen to my book review.
The novel is a broad, all encompassing read. We start our journey here in China in the 1930’s with Meilin. She is living and working with her father-in-law, and waiting for her husband to return to her from the army. Her husband doesn’t return, and struggles evolve into full blown war. Meilin leaves her home to find safety with her in laws.
As Meilin traverses China looking for somewhere safe to call home, her son, Renshu, grows up against the backdrop of violence so frequent it becomes commonplace and routine, but never less terrifying. He is granted solace by his close relationship with his mother, and her many stories, including those told from a beautiful and ornate scroll, given to Meilin by her late husband; it is a promise, and a manifestation of the future they had hoped to share together.
Renshu grows into an intelligent person, who is both lucky and talented enough to make it to America, where he can pursue a different life.
As he tries to move on under the Western name of Henry, he is plagued by traumas he doesn’t quite have the vocabulary to describe. He thinks he’s able to move past the horrors that made up his every day life, and doesn’t quite understand that he has endured atrocities.
Characters we can root for
As Meilin struggles to protect Renshu, and as Renshu becomes a successful and independent Henry, we are proud of these characters.
They’re deeply realistic and three dimensional. We find them during pivotal moments of their lives, and come with them as they navigate war and settling in new, strange places multiple times.
So, we see grief and struggles through their eyes. We feel their wanting and yearning for something simple. So, we are able to feel genuinely proud of these characters. When Meilin becomes independent, and has built her own life from the ground up, it’s a beautiful feeling. Like seeing a friend succeed.
This novel is poetic and deeply moving. It’s a beautiful and informational read. Not did I deeply enjoy Fu’s writing style, but I feel I learned a lot about China and everything all of the characters went through.
I really loved reading this book. It’s nothing short of an epic, and will surely become a classic.
You don’t have to be a scholar of history to enjoy this. It suits the general reader looking for something excellent and affective. It’s gorgeous inside out – I mean, the cover of the book is just amazing too!