Review by Booklist Review
Patterson's remarkable debut follows four women from three generations and in two different parts of the world. Sisters Addie and Louisa grow up on a farm in Illinois. Louisa stays, but Addie marries and leaves with her husband to take up missionary work in China. Later she disappears, perhaps a victim of the anti-Christian uprising known as the Boxer Rebellion. Decades later, Hazel, one of Louisa's daughters, is left with two young children and a farm to manage when her husband dies, and she finds solace in an affair with a married neighbor. In 1998, in fast-changing China, Juanlan has completed her university studies and returns home to the isolated town of Heng'an, where her family owns a small hotel. There seem to be several different novels here; Juanlan's story, in particular, is tied to the others by very slender threads. The title might lead the reader to expect large events, but, though some history lurks in the background, this is a book about the quiet unfolding of lives and the kind of rebellion that comes from following one's heart.--Quinn, Mary Ellen Copyright 2017 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Three strong women and their acts of rebellion in disparate circumstances are intriguingly connected in this vividly rendered, impressive debut. Addie, an American missionary in China in the latter part of the 19th century, leaves her husband and children and the confines of a restrictive enclave to venture into the more remote parts of the country with a widowed missionary with whom she has become enamored. Addie's niece, Hazel, whom we first meet as a feisty senior in 1999, driving the car that her adult children took the keys from, has had a tough life since she became the widowed mother of two children in the 1950s. She asserts her independence by maintaining ownership of her farm and unexpectedly develops an illicit relationship with her neighbor's husband, while maintaining a connection to the man's wife. Juanlan, a 1998 college graduate with no job prospects, returns to the small Chinese town where she was born to help with the family-owned hotel. She ends up having an affair with a married, politically connected older man whom her brother introduces her to with the hope that he will give their parents official permission to open up their hotel to foreigners. We see each woman interacting with family and friends, navigating the diverse challenges she faces, achieving a hard-won sense of self worth. Most remarkable is the subtle way Patterson ties all three lives together. Agent: Ellen Levine, Trident Media Group. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review
Four women and the paths they take at crucial times in their lives are explored in this intergenerational novel that covers two continents. Addie, a young, idealistic missionary in China, embarks on a dramatic turn from taking care of her husband and children and accompanies Poppy to a mission hundreds of miles away. On an Illinois farm, Hazel prematurely loses her husband and carries on an affair with her best friend's husband. Louisa, Addie's sister, is very concerned when she reads about the Boxer Rebellion in China and the murder of Christians. Juanlan, in present-day China, conducts an affair with a high-ranking government official while deciding what to do after college. In precise, detailed language we experience the beginning of a life; the slow defeat that cancer brings; a sudden, tragic death; and the awakening of the soul in these flesh-and-bone characters. VERDICT The Pushcart Prize-winning Patterson has written quite a debut, truly a page-turner that shows her knowledge of life in China. She's a natural storyteller with empathy for the plight of women, and book groups will have much to discuss with this sweeping, far-flung novel. [See Prepub Alert, 2/20/17.]-Lisa Rohrbaugh, Leetonia Community P.L., OH © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.