Update and Book Review

You might remember that last week I was so exasperated with issues over formatting my book for CreateSpace that there was a minor tantrum.  Fortunately my fourth attempt was met with success and to my palpable relief the odd pages appeared on the right hand side of the virtual book.  I am now awaiting the arrival of the proof copy from America.  Having paid a priority shipping fee I was under the impression that it was to arrive on Wednesday.  It did not.  And it did not arrive on Thursday either.

Friday – 10:30 – I peer out of the window biting my finger nails anxiously, waiting for the arrival of the postman.

10:34 – A figure appears in the distance at the end of the road, clad in a red anorak like top, as worn by Royal Mail employees.  I wait expectantly.  It is evident as the figure approaches closer that he is not the postman.  Not only is he not pushing a mail trolley, but he is holding a can of Super Kestrel, a high alcohol beer popular with alcoholics.  He stumbles past, mumbling incessantly and continues up the street.

10:37 – I return to my desk.

10:41 – I hear footsteps followed by the sound of post being forced through the letter box.  Going through to the hallway I am disappointed to see there is no book.

On another matter I recently attended a book launch for The Bitter Sea, a fictional account based on real events, at the time of the civil war in China.  The book is published by Quartet.  Please find my review for it below.

The Bitter Sea by Chung Yee Chong

Canton, China – 1948 – The matriarch of the influential and wealthy Fu family is the Dowager and it is her birthday celebration that serves as the opening scene for this compelling novel.  This annual event is interrupted by the attendance of an unsettling presence in the form of a stranger, who casts an ominous shadow over the proceedings and heralds the start of a series of tragic events that will ultimately lead to the disintegration of the family unit.

In this carefully crafted literary masterpiece the tribulations faced by the Fus act as a microcosm for the monumental changes facing China during this turbulent period in her history.  The long civil war is drawing to its inevitable conclusion with Mao Tse-tung’s Communist forces poised to overthrow the Nationalists, led by the ineffectual General Chiang Kai Shek, whose grip on the South of the country is loosening, threatening the traditional fabric of Chinese society with dissolution.

The story follows the Dowager’s three very different sons; the eldest of which is Chuo Kuo, the leader of a political party, desperate to bring peace to his suffering nation.  His role as a go-between for the two warring factions allows the reader an insight into the opposing leaders’ very different personalities.

The author successfully employs a descriptive, often melancholic narrative that offers a deep understanding of the fragility of social and political conditions, as the Chinese old order disintegrates and is replaced with an uncertain new era that will irreversibly change the nation forever.

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