A Book Devoured: Under the Hawthorn Tree by Ai Mi
Monday, August 11, 2014
It's been FOREVER since I've done a book review post! Over the summer my blog backlog got filled with product reviews and event recaps so book posts fell to the wayside, but since I enjoy writing them, I've decided to bring it back. I hope you enjoy reading it!
Under the Hawthorn Tree is a book written by Chinese author Ai Mi. Actually, the author's name is a pseudonym and the story is "based" upon a true story. Personally, after reading this book, I like to believe it is 98% truth!
The story takes place during the Cultural Revolution in China, a turbulent time where the Communist government sought to reform society according to its tenets. Centered around a young girl, Jing Qiu, whose family has been marked as being of a "poor class" (landowners), the story follows Jing Qiu's struggles to make ends meet and her eventual love story with the dashing young Old Third, the son of an army general.
Although the story take place during the Cultural Revolution and it's certainly its own character within the book, the story is really about Jing Qiu and Old Third's love. The novel is marked by Jing Qiu's steadfastly innocent nature and unless you've watched some Chinese shows, you would probably find her rejection of Old Third's kindness and her sexual naivete absolutely mind-blowing and unbelievable. However, I can tell you that her character is actually believable, given the era and the fact that this type of doomed love between a beautiful innocent girl and an honourable, handsome young man is just the sort of thing that Chinese films are made of. Torn apart by geography, time and class, you just know these two are doomed. Normally I hate romantic films and books but this one just had me hooked. Its mix of romance and historical events gave this book the depth it needs to elevate this story from omg-this-is-so-hokey-just-have-sex-already to omg-this-is-so-epic-and-they're-SO-IN LOVE-whyyyyy.
After wild success in China and being translated into multiple languages, Under the Hawthorn Tree became a movie in 2010 and was directed by Zhang Yimou. I can't wait to try to watch the movie now!