Archive | 10:29 AM

Book Club Reflection: The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Cho

20 Oct

My book club met via Zoom again for our last meeting, a discussion of Yangsze Choo’s The Ghost Bride. I had finished the book earlier that day so I was excited to get a chance to discuss it so soon after finishing it.

Choo is 4th from the fourth generation of Chinese to live in Malaysia. She traveled a lot in her life and went to Harvard in the US. She now lives in San Francisco. It’s easy to see how her birth influenced this book. Many of us enjoyed the exposure to Chinese funeral customs and understanding how a different culture looks at the afterlife. Many of us compared the Plains of the Dead to Purgatory but they’re very different, which we realized when we started talking about them. There was a good deal of superstition in the novel. It manifested more in the older, less educated characters like Amah and Old Wong. Tian Bai and Li Lan’s father, for example, were less tolerant of old superstitions.

We had some conflicting opinions on the plot of the novel. Some felt like the plot went along well and didn’t get bogged down with side characters and side plots. Others of us felt it was very slow at times and a bit predictable. We did feel like Li Lan didn’t grow much during her story. It started to feel like a YA novel at times because she was so head-over-heels in insta-love with Tian Bai and was do repulsed by Lim Tian Ching that it felt oversimplified. We discussed the corruption side plot and didn’t feel it was a very strong plot. Most of us were surprised by Fan’s betrayal; no one saw that one coming!

We spent a lot of time talking about the ending. Li Lan seems to change her mind about Tian Bai very quickly and that was part of my frustration with the end. One reader pointed out that she seemed to lose her favor for him as she saw him like the things in Fan she despised. She seemed to think that if he couldn’t tell the difference between them and believed that she valued jewels and gifts, he didn’t really know her and wasn’t the love match she expected. She projecting her dislike for Fan onto Tian Bai. A lot of us felt like it was a cheap reason for her to end up with Er Lang, though. After so much time pining after Tian Bai, it felt weird to have her change her goal.

A few readers had watched the Netflix mini-series for this book but I wasn’t aware it existed! I’m excited to give it a try soon. I hear it’s well done so I have high hopes.

Until next time, write on.

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