01 Apr Peach Blossom Spring by Melissa Fu
Can we ever turn our back on the past
It’s so heartbreaking to watch the news at the moment, to see people displaced through war, seeking safety in a world that seems ever more unsafe.
We can only pray for peace, and remind ourselves that there is triumph over adversity, and joy to be found in the little things.
This theme of displacement is taken up in Peach Blossom Spring, a book that takes us back to the 1930s when humanity was on the brink of World War.
In a journey of over 60 years, the narrative spans three generations in this ultimately hopeful tale of finding your happy place.
In 1938, young widow Meilin and her little son Renshu are caught up in the chaos of the Japanese invasion of China, the subsequent fallout of World War II and the battle between Communists and Kuomingtan for control of China.
As refugees, they travel from place to place on a journey that takes them through China to Taiwan, and, for Renshu, even further afield.
As they travel, Meilin relates old Chinese fables, including the one of a man who finds paradise in a place called Peach Blossom Spring. But if he stays there. he’ll have to leave all his old life behind.
Peach Blossom Spring gives this book its title and its theme – can we turn our back on the past, and is the future always going to be a better, brighter place? Or does Paradise come at a cost?
I really enjoyed this story. Meilin is an amazing character – strong, resilient and loving, and always optimistic. Renshu is more complicated but always empathetic, and his daughter, Lily is the perfect combination of them both.
The flowing narrative immerses the reader in the history and atmosphere of China – you really feel you’re there, in the the little shops lit with kerosene lamps, in the markets selling snow pears, in Meilin’s hillside homelands, on the dangerous swelling rivers that take Meilin and Renshu ever onwards on their journey, and the bustle of Taiwan.
Though the little family finds ways to thrive and survive, making good friends along the way, the background of political turmoil, and the constant threat of China’s icy grip on individuals, no matter how far out of reach they seem, keeps the tension going.
It’s a long book, and I felt it got a little laboured towards the end with its message, but I still really enjoyed it, and would definitely recommend it.
Peach Blossom Spring by Melissa Fu is published by Widlfire in hardback and ebook
About the Author
Peach Blossom Spring is Melissa Fu’s debut novel.
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