Monday, 21 March 2011
Peking Picnic (Bridge)
Hot on the heels of really enjoying Illyrian Spring, I felt that I absolutely must read Ann Bridge's other VMC novel (although she wrote other non-VMC novels too), Peking Picnic. Especially since unlike Illyrian Spring, Peking Picnic has recently been brought back into print by Capachin Classics. Peking Picnic was Ann Bridge's first novel; as a debut novel it is impressive, compared to Illyrian Spring I found it rather less enjoyable, so if you are planning to read both, then I would start with Peking Picnic and then move on. I actually read this several weeks ago, but in the rush of enthusiasm I had when I recieved my Awesome Virago loot I wanted to get on with reviewing those books first.
Set in Peking (and there aren't too many VMCs with a Chinese setting), the book follows the story of Laura Leroy, married to an attache and part of the diplomatic scene there, although she secretly missed England. The book is constructed around a trip made by some of the people attached to the Foreign Legation to a temple in the countryside; the individuals vary in ages, nationalities and life experiences, but all find the trip life-changing in some way. Laura acts as the centre for this, providing advice and inspiration, but also finding herself changed.
Like Illyrian Spring, what I liked best I think about this book was the description of China and the country, as well as the character studies and insight into the lives of the individuals which are beautifully done. Rachel at Book Snob reached a similar conclusion in her review which you can see here.
This by the way is my THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTIETH VMC that I have blogged about (I haven't finished blogging about Elizabeth Taylor yet although I have read all of those), so I have just over 200 to go now (although the collection is of course ever expanding...)