Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
It's a couple of days since I finished songs of Willow frost, I needed to sit back and decide how much I liked it and what to say about it as I was hoping (nay Expecting) - to be completely blown away by it, as I was with the authors first book
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
and I WAS captivated by this second novel which kept me turning the pages and wanting to read more about young William, living in an orphanage and seeking truths about how and why his mother left him there 5 years previously. I'd give it 7/10, I enjoyed reading it, would recommend it.
However it wasn't perfect and sometimes the writing style just jarred a little bit with me, Williams voice was unpredictable and although often almost poetic in language and thought sometimes it was inconsistent and rather clumsy, and I feel the authors' previous superb efforts are somewhat to blame for me feeling just a tiny bit let down by this new book. When you set your debut standards that high it's hard to live up to them.
The storyline is utterly charming - a young boy telling his story in his own unique Chinese American voice, his delightful and tragic young blind friend Charlotte, also from the orphanage, heartless Nuns, a deprived childhood, their quest to find the truth ... all make compelling reading.
Then we find his Mother, once plain Liu Song a teenage mother, living in poverty, cruelly betrayed and abused, now living as the enigmatic big screen star Willow Frost and she tells her story which is no less compelling or tragic. But I just couldn't warm to her, I felt she was rather insipid and easily manipulated and I like my heroines feisty and strong. set amidst the very grim setting of the depression, its a bleak and disturbing story and many of the events which occur could only happen within the cross cultural roles of Chinese Americans where traditions of welcoming the ghosts of dead relatives back into the home battle with age old traditions of oppressed females and firm ideas of what is and isn't acceptable behaviour, maybe I had difficulty accepting this culture which felt very alien to me but I struggled with quite a few aspects of daily life in Chinatown.
The ending was good but not sensational. In reading it I gasped aloud a few times but I didn't shed a tear, it moved me but didn't tear me apart. Am I becoming a victim of my own expectations, where I can now seldom truly say I loved a book as I feel obliged to examine my own feelings at the end of every novel and often find them lacking. owever that is what I take on when I agree to read and review a new book as I did with this free advance reading copy from Netgalley. I feel all the more obliged to be honest about any perceived flaws as well as strengths.
This is a must read for any fans of the first book by
Jamie Ford please do read it and draw your own conclusion as I'm sure you were going to do anyway.