This story is a masterpiece! I’m never quite sure what to expect when I pick up a book set in a different culture and I was very pleasantly surprised by this story. The author has based this story on the life of her great-grandmother and she must have been an amazing woman. The story begins in 1878 and is set in Malaysia. Chye Hoon in born into a Nyonya household and is trained in the tradition. Her marriage is arranged for her by her parents and she is fortunate because they choose a handsome young man who will become not only her husband but her best friend. The newlyweds settle in Ipoh just before the turn of the century and their family grows right along with the town. They will have 10 children before tragedy strikes and Chye Hoon must find the courage to go on. She turns to her Nyonya training to support her family.
Chye Hoon shows great strength in the midst of a quickly changing world. She never learns to read or write but she manages to start not 1 but 3 successful businesses. She faces incredible personal losses but her family keeps her going. Her story is beautifully told in this book. Since Chye Hoon supports her family with her Nyonya cooking there is a lot of talk about food in this story and the author’s descriptions will have your mouth watering in no time. The author also does an excellent job of describing the culture and the tension between the white rulers and the Malaysian people. I am highly recommending this book, especially for readers who enjoy learning about other cultures. This could also be a great book club pick.
Alinefromabook’s rating: 5 stars!
A copy of this book was provided by NetGalley and AmazonCrossing in exchange for an honest review.