95er’s April Meetup: A Many Splendoured Thing

The 95er’s have finally met up once more to talk about our latest book for our club which was A Many Splendoured Thing by Han Suyin which was chosen by our lovely Yomi. We did our usual routine that we sat around the dinner table and processed to talk and eat for at least an hour or so then Hen moves to the lounge area where we all soon follow. I did not take a picture of our lovely table this time around because plainly I forgot and we started eating the majority of it before it was all there. There are many topics which we discuss when we are around each other; news, other books, medical advice, the weather, funny stories, our jobs, travel, etc, there is no subject unturned when we are all together. We finally managed to make our way to the lounge to talk about this book and it got into quite a heated discussion.

If you have never read this book or at least haven’t heard of it, I would be more than happy to enlighten you on it. A Many Splendoured Thing by Han Suyin is a firsthand experience of Han’s first year living in Hong Kong since her husband died and her affair with an English journalist named Mark Elliott. Han struggles with her identity of being a Eurasian; which is half Chinese and half European, along with her love affair with a married man, Mark. The story bounces between Hong Kong, Singapore, and China and the reader is able to see the relationship between Han and the people around her. To understand the person she is and who she is supposed to be, Han must overcome the struggles in her life and this book allows you to examine her growth throughout the novel.

Yomi chose this novel for the club to read this month and here were a few topics that we discussed when we got together:

–        The Language of the novel: the conversations between characters vs. the language of the novel

–        The Role of a European mistress vs. a Chinese concubine

–        The various types of wars going on in the novel- external and inner war

–        Characterization

–        View of the development of Communism

–        What is A Many Splendoured Thing?

–        Overall opinions and thoughts of the book

`So as an overall opinion to this book the group, except Yomi was that this novel was a flop for us. Overall, we disliked the book. There were parts of the book that were beautiful with such detailed, exquisite pros and descriptions that made you feel as if you were there but the rest of it lacked the beauty that those passages possessed. The language of the conversation was hard to follow; there was too much symbolism and metaphors in the way she spoke that made it hard for the reader to enjoy and understand. The descriptions of the places were incredible but her characterization was flawed in that they just seemed to be cardboard cut outs of people, they lacked the emotion and depth any person would have. The relationship between her and Mark seemed to be a bit more of an infatuation than a deep understanding love; it didn’t seem real or it didn’t seem enough to make it of a fantasy relationship. We did all agree that the development of Communism in the book was accurate and the reader was able to see it slowly taking over the people through brainwashing and acceptance by them. We also overall agreed that we WOULD NOT recommend this book to others, sorry Yoms. Of course after having our heated debate over how much we disliked the book, the characters, and the language we took it a step further. Each one of us read out load bits of the book we didn’t like and proceeded to make fun of the writing; mind you this is after a few glasses of wine and some of the Mint Chocolate Cheesecake that I made. It was a fun evening with friends which resulted in us making fun of a book we all disliked, sorry again Yoms. Once again we drank too much and ate too much but we enjoyed each other’s company and proceeded to make ourselves laugh all night. Yomi took a picture of us with our reaction to the novel:

Claire is trying to smile politely but we all know she didn’t like the book, Rhedd is laughing at the passages we were reading out loud, judging by my face you can tell I did not like this book at all, and Hen is asleep because the book was so dull. So concludes another meeting of the 95er’s Book Club. Our next book is The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters, which got the group talking of scary stories and movies since this book is supposed to be a bit of a scare. I am looking forward to our next meeting in about 4 weeks time.

Has anyone read The Little Stranger or A Many Splendoured Thing? What did you think? Have a good weekend everyone!

Here is a picture of the winner of the contest I had on this blog a few weeks back:

YAY Claire won a copy of The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters and a nice bookmark from Froyles books. Hope you like them Claire!

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