Title: Women of the Silk
Author: Gail Tsukiyama
Published: October 1993
Summary: This story takes place in rural China between 1919-1938 and follows several women as they make their way through a world that doesn’t give them much care. The main story line, however, follows Pei, the daughter of poor farmers who live in a dirt-floor home in a very small village. As a way to help support her family, her father eventually sends her to work in a silk factory, where her wage will be sent home in part. Pei’s story takes off from here.
My Thoughts: As my rating indicates, this was not my favorite book. I rarely give out ratings so low and I continually second guess myself if that was the right rating. If I am rating from a place of my own pleasure, it accurately captures my enjoyment of this book. If I were to rate purely about quality and topic interest, I would probably add on a star or two, but alas, that is not my rating style. I mostly found the book a tad on the boring side, which wasn’t compelling me to continue to turn the pages. I did find the study on women in that time interesting. How little choice a woman had then. How marriage typically did not mean happiness and bliss, but rather submissiveness and abuse. How a position like essentially being an indentured servant to the silk industry actually afforded women with options and some freedom of choice. This was all interesting and provides fodder for good conversation. From a conceptual stand point I agree there are captivating ideas in this book. It explores the unique relationships the women in this industry had with one another, relationships that are quite difficult to label and hover between sisterhood and something more. All that being said, the bottom line is that I didn’t enjoy the read.
Book Club Discussion: I was alone in my poor rating of this book. It was a bit controversial in fact. My sisters and mom enjoyed it way more than me with one even giving it 5 stars. So if my review has you writing off this book, know that I was in the minority on this one. We all agreed it was an interesting topic and we really found the oppression of females in that culture shocking. They enjoyed the relationships and liked how Tsukiyama demonstrated that these women built families among themselves as they were the only ones who cared for one another. Okay, enough about this book…on to the next one.
Next Month’s Pick: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie