Along the River: A Chinese Cinderella Novel

Along the River: A Chinese Cinderella Novel

4.6 8
by Adeline Yen Mah

View All Available Formats & Editions

Bestselling Chinese American author Adeline Yen Mah weaves her authentic accounts of life in China into an absorbing novel about a Chinese girl and her vision of a previous life.
After a fall, CC is whisked away to a hospital. As she drifts in and out of consciousness, she is haunted by vivid dreams that seem strange—yet somehow familiar. Thus… See more details below

  • Checkmark Fractured Fairytales  Shop Now


Bestselling Chinese American author Adeline Yen Mah weaves her authentic accounts of life in China into an absorbing novel about a Chinese girl and her vision of a previous life.
After a fall, CC is whisked away to a hospital. As she drifts in and out of consciousness, she is haunted by vivid dreams that seem strange—yet somehow familiar. Thus begins CC’s emotional journey back to a privileged life lived eight hundred years ago during the Song dynasty.

CC is the daughter of a wealthy and influential man, but she finds herself drawn to a poor orphan boy with a startling ability to capture the beauty of the natural world. As the relationship between these two young people deepens, the transforming power of art and romantic love comes into conflict with the immovable rules of Chinese society.

This stunning fantasy adventure novel, inspired by China’s most famous painting, Along the River at the Qing Ming Festival, tells the story of a friendship both tender and bold. CC’s remarkable journey reminds readers that though time moves on, art and love endure.

From the Hardcover edition.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—During World War II, 12-year-old CC is helping her grandmother rescue downed American pilots from behind enemy lines when she falls and ends up in a monthlong coma. Hypnotherapy provides a superfluous frame for the main story. She learns that in 1091, she is 13-year-old Mei Lan, who, along with her older brother, forms a close friendship with Ah Zhao, an orphaned slave possessing considerable artistic talent. As they grow up, the three friends explore the truth behind beauty and art, the prisons formed by societal expectations, and the lasting memories of one perfect day. In the story of their friendship, Mah provides a possible explanation for the provenance of several Song Dynasty paintings, reproductions of which appear in a full-color insert. Throughout the book, the story and characters are often lost in excessive historical detail and background. Further, explanations of culture and language are frequently and clumsily inserted into the dialogue. Despite this attention to historical detail, the characters are extremely modern, creating a confusing disconnect.—Jennifer Rothschild, Prince George's County Memorial Library System, Oxon Hill, MD
Publishers Weekly
Mah (Chinese Cinderella) connects two eras of Chinese history in this emotionally charged tale of two young women, originally published in Australia. Fearful that she's being pursued, 12-year-old CC escapes to a rooftop and falls, landing in a coma. When she awakens in a hospital, it is as though her mind has been transported back 800 years. Under hypnosis, she recalls vibrant details of another life as Mei Lan, the privileged daughter of a kindly father and cruel stepmother. Mei Lan's only friends are her ambitious older brother, Gege, and Ah Zhao, a servant boy whose artistic talent has won the notice of the emperor. Mei Lan and Ah Zhao become confidantes and fall in love, but fate tears them apart. Based on the Chinese painting Along the River at Qing Ming, this painstakingly researched novel brings to life the sights and sounds of ancient China, providing a clear interpretation of the era's rigid social structures. Characters often speak with a formality that may feel overly stiff, but vivid imagery enlivens the gripping premise; readers will be captivated by the exploration into a possible past life. Ages 12–up. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Jody Little
In this story within a story young CC (Chinese Cinderella) falls into a coma after a horrible tumble in a marketplace. She awakens a few days later and is mysteriously drawn to a painting. Along the river at Qing Ming, CC's doctor decides to try hypnosis. While hypnotized, CC tells of a past life occurring eight hundred years ago during the Song Dynasty. In her story, CC is Mei Lan, the daughter of a wealthy man. Mei Lan's father takes in an orphan, Ah Li, to be a servant in their household. Mei Lan and her brother Gege like Ah Li instantly and are awed by his artistic talents. When Ah Li sculpts a dog from a piece of jade, the emperor of China notices his talent. While visiting the capital, Mei Lan, Gege, and Ah Zhao are inspired by the scenes of a local festival along the river at Qing Ming. Ah Zhao and Gege agree to create a painting together depicting their memories. Before they can finish, however, Ah Zhao is asked to live at the emperor's palace and create masterpieces using the emperor's name. Ah Zhao does not want this arrangement. He wants his freedom, and he runs away with the promise to meet Mei Lan and Gege in three years' time. As the years pass, Mei Lan is distraught over her impending arranged marriage, but true to his word, Ah Zhao sends her a gift with a secret message which Mei Lan understands. Inspired from the actual painting, Along the River at Qing Ming, the author crafts a historical fantasy that will have readers considering the power of art, love and the possibility of past lives. Reviewer: Jody Little
Kirkus Reviews
The success of Mah's memoirs (Falling Leaves, 1997, for adults and Chinese Cinderella, 1999, for kids) led to her well-received novel Chinese Cinderella and the Secret Dragon Society (2005) and historical overview China: Land of Dragons and Emperors (2008). Here, she tries to combine them all, blithely and unwisely stepping beyond her literary capabilities. Readers initially meet CC (the character from the previous novel) on what seems to be a mission in World War II China. Chased, she falls and enters a coma. A doctor hypnotizes her, and readers shift to the Song dynasty and CC's previous life in a star-crossed romance, observing the scene in the famous painting Along the River at the Qing Ming Festival. Both setting and emotional tension rely heavily on cliché and exclamation points. The author abuses dialogue to cram in historical details (a visitor exclaiming "Good tea!" is treated to an encyclopedic definiton of white tea). It is unclear what story she is trying to tell: the romance? the story of the painting? the bookend of CC's coma, which will be inexplicable to readers unfamiliar with the previous novel? As none succeed, the question may go unanswered. (Fiction. 9-12)

Read More

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Sold by:
Random House
Sales rank:
File size:
4 MB
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >