Sunday, 30 April 2017

Bailey's Book Prize book one

Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien

I'm not sure why I picked this one out of the box to read first - perhaps it was the gold foil on the cover shining at me!

My first thoughts on opening the book were possibly a little negative as I was bit overwhelmed by the length and the font - this is where eBooks really win for me as it is so easy to change the text size and font to make the reading experience easier.

However within moments of starting the book these thoughts vanished, I was sucked in to the book and loved the present day narrator, Marie, instantly.

This is a sweeping tale which mixes fact and fiction seamlessly at the same time as bringing the history of China since 1940 to life. The weaving together of all of the strands was handled so deftly that I really felt like I was peeling back the layers of a story and falling deeper and deeper into it as I turned every page.

At times I wanted to know more about Marie and her life but as the book progressed I understood why it was structured as it was and by the very end I was a soggy, snotty mess as the ending just finished me.

I loved the way that I learned so much about China while reading this. Passages of history, such as The Cultural Revolution, which I'd heard of and had a vague idea of came to life in that way that sometimes only fiction can make happen.

I know that this was a good book because it has fluttered in and out of my dreams since I started it and I have a feeling that it may well end up on my 'best fiction of the year' lists come December. I am now even more excited than before to read the remaining short listed titles to see if they can beat this one!

If you've liked Wild Swans by Jung Chang or This is All by Aidan Chambers then I think you'll like this one, but it will also appeal to people who like detailed historical fiction such as Birds Without Wings, Birdsong & Memoirs of a Geisha.

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