genre: historical fiction
In 1926, when Pei is a young girl, her father essentially sells her to the silk factory. Living among a sisterhood of women who create thread and weave the beautiful silk cloth, Pei grows up far from her rural home. Learning and growing not only in the trade that was chosen for her but also as a person with hopes and dreams, Pei's friendships are her family. While life there is sometimes harsh and tragic, it also provides opportunities to even see beyond the silk factory, into a wide world in which she has precious freedoms uncommon to Chinese women at the time.
I picked this one up because I really enjoyed Street of a Thousand Blossoms and was willing to give her another try. I'm glad that I did, even if this wasn't a particularly life-changing read and wasn't quite of the same caliber as that later work I've already read. Tsukiyama's writing is sparse and Pei's story is definitely intriguing - labor disputes and special ceremonies, family troubles among her friends and the threat of Japanese occupation spice up a text that is mostly a slow and character-driven tale of life and relationships in a China that no longer exists. I will read more by this author for sure - I love the historical settings she chooses and the slices of life she exposes me to.