Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah [Book Review]

Chinese Cinderella.jpg
Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah

Title : Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of an Unwanted Daughter

Author : Adeline Yen Mah

ISBN : 9780440228653

Publisher : Puffin

Genre : Memoir

Pages : 252

Source : Self

Rating : 5 stars




Chinese Cinderella is one of those books that prove that you can write a simple memoir with uncomplicated words and sentence formation but can still move the reader and touch the chords of his/her heart because the story itself is immensely heartbreaking which is only complemented by a brisk and smooth narration.

Chinese Cinderella” is a memoir written by Adeline Yen Mah, whose mother dies after she is born and her entire childhood is eclipsed by the unfair treatments subjected to her by the hands of her stepmother and father. I understand that there are a lot of negative reviews on Goodreads for this book- many find it “whiny” and “pretentious” for during those turbulent years in China, Adeline had at least a house, education in good schools and always had access to regular meals. I understand that there are many Chinese who have had much worse conditions. Having said that, this book is more about the emotional upheavals of a girl child who is being felt “unwanted”, not only by her stepmother but also by her own father and brothers, rather than being financially deficient.

Along with her story, Adeline has tried her best to include snippets of China’s political happenings of the time to make the reader feel more connected and informed. My favorite chapter is the one where Adeline’s Ye Ye (Grandfather) makes her realize the importance & uniqueness of the Chinese language. Reading this chapter is like a first-hand guide towards the language- you will understand how Chinese is not a phonetic language but a pictorial one and how one can read Chinese fluently still not be able to speak it!

At the end of the book you will also be surprised to know that the actual Cinderella story that we all know has been derived from a much older Chinese folklore. A wonderfully narrated memoir, sure to touch your heart!

Buy yourself a copy of the book here: Chinese Cinderella

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Full Marks for Trying by Brigid Keenan [Book Review]

Full marks for trying.jpgTitle : Full Marks for Trying

Author : Brigid Keenan

ISBN : 9781408852279

Publisher : Bloomsbury India

Genre : Memoir

Pages : 208

Source : Self

Rating : 4 stars






Full Marks for Trying is a ‘coming-of-age’ memoir of Brigid Keenan. Brigid talks about her journey from India to England post the Indian independence and partition. She has had a rather colorful and unconventional life from her childhood during the pre-independence era in India to post-war England and on to a finishing school in Paris.

When she was young, Brigid had been labeled ‘desperately plain’ by her mother. This is when she decided to take matters in her own hands and became determined to do something great and rely on something, so as not to end up being on the bottom of the pile.

Brigid landed a job in London as an assistant at the Daily Express in her teens, following which she became a Fashion Editor when she was twenty-one at the Sunday Times. This happened during the early sixties, what a time to be in London! Brigid’s career has been rather fantastic and glamorous. She’s worked with the who’s who of in the glamour industry.

She’s worked with eminent personalities like Jean Shrimpton, David Bailey, Quant, Vidal Sassoon and has also covered the Paris collections. Brigid’s enthusiasm and hard work earned her the title ‘Young Meteor’ which was given to her by the media.

Brigid has written about her childhood in India, which she misses and which has now become a painful nostalgia. She describes the pre-independence India with vibrant details about the people, the places she had visited and lived in and about the great partition of Pakistan and India and the Hindu-Muslim clash which resulted in death of millions.

I must say it gets a little boring and frustrating after a while since it’s all about her. The book is a memoir so of course it is going to be all about the author, but at some point you will want some variety in the book. But the fact that it is so informative kind of compensates for that.

Brigid Keenan had a happy childhood with the only downside being when she was put in a boarding school. She is hard working, loyal and inspiring and has had a very versatile career. Her writing is fresh, honest, funny and witty!

The writing is great, there is no doubt about it, but, I have mixed feelings about this book and would recommend this book to people who want to read during leisure. The book certainly has a lot of information and has made me feel happy, angry and sad too. It’s a one time read.

Buy a copy for yourself from Amazon here.

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Prisoner of Tehran by Marina Nemat [Book Review]

Prisoner of Tehran Marina NematTitle : Prisoner of Tehran

Author : Marina Nemat

ISBN : 9781416537427

Publisher : Penguin

Genre : Memoir, Nonfiction

Pages : 306

Source : Self

Rating : 5 stars






Prisoner of Tehran is a heartbreaking true story of a young Iranian girl facing the brutal horrors of the Islamic Revolution.

Marina Nemat, a Christian girl from Tehran was only 16 years old when she was arrested on false charges by the notorious Revolutionary guards of Ayotallah Khomeini. She was tortured and put up in the infamous ‘Evin prison’ while she saw her friends getting executed.

But she got a chance to live! Her interrogator Ali fell in love with her and got her out. In return she had to convert to Islam and marry him! Although she is not happy about her marriage to him, she learns to love his family. Towards the end of the book the guard, Marina’s husband, is assassinated by his friends and coworkers. His dying wish is for his father to take Marina back.

The author describes how she became a political prisoner in the early days of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary government for the crime of asking her calculus teacher to teach calculus instead of government propaganda.

The chapters in which the autho flashes back to her earlier childhood in Iran are as captivating as the prison chapters, and in some ways almost as heartbreaking.

Prisoner of Tehran is not just a memoir of a victim, it also traces the sexual and political awakening of a teenage liberal girl belonging to the minority Christian community whose life is turned upside down when Islamic Revolution of Iran happened in 1979.

Even though it’s a memoir, the book is extremely well written with beautiful prose. Heart wrenching, captivating, exhilarating, tragic, and beautiful are a few words to describe this masterpiece. The subject matter of the book is heavy but it’s written in a very readable way!

Marina Nemat does a great justice to every character is the book by showing that reality is not as simple as black and white. She also shows the humanity and kindness shown by the guard who forced her to marry him.

Highly recommended!