Cloud Mountainby Aimee E. Liu
In California of 1906, where it is a crime for them to even touch, Hope Newfield and Liang Po-yu decide to marry. But in the coming years, as they move from San Francisco to China and start to raise a family, their love is tested by prejudice, by revolution, by conflicting loyalties, and their own drastically different traditions.
Loosely based on Liu's own grandparents' experience, the story begins in 1941 when Hope Newfield, living in Los Angeles, receives a three-year-old letter from her husband in China asking if she still has a place in her heart for him. The letter moves Hope to look back over the events that brought the couple together and tore them apart. They had met in 1906, when she was living in Oakland and tutoring Chinese students. Leong Po-yo, a new pupil, is the only son of a noble family and a follower of Dr. Sun Yat-sen. Teacher and student are soon attracted to each other, and when Leong rescues Hope after the 1906 earthquake, they admit their love and decide to marry. They do so in Evanston, Wyoming, one of the few towns that allows "mixed" marriages, but they're quickly subject to racial slurs from both Americans and Chinese. Still, life is sweet, and the first of several children are born; but then, in 1911, revolution breaks out in China and Leong hurries back, followed shortly by Hope. From then on, their lives are shaped by Leong's political activities. Hope becomes a photographer and journalist; she and her children are shunned by both Chinese and European society. The marriage is further tested when China is pulled apart by civil war. Dispirited, Hope returns with her children to California in 1932, and though she goes back in 1942 in response to Leong's letter, she accepts that the two of them, victims of time and place, will always be "separate and distinct."
A moving tale of true love, besieged by politics and prejudice, that nonetheless survives the tumultuous times Liu so vividly and intelligently describes.
- Grand Central Publishing
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.44(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.76(d)
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Ordinarily, I pass on books I've read to a wide circle of friends and avid readers. Then there are the "file 13" books, books I wouldn't subject the misery of reading them on anyone. This is a file 13 book. First, you have a woman, the heroine, often narrator, who gives up EVERYTHING for her husband, despite the ongoing fact that he tcontinually chooses his obsession and his vision of China over his own family; but she stays with him, despite being discriminated against among his own family and his beloved culture, and despite his being a bigoted emotionless man when it comes to respecting women! We are supposed to feel for her when the obvious choice within weeks of landing in China, and years later, when she did have the money, was to return with her children to America. Good grief, in the end,, while she leaves it undone, I imagine this woman, having gone bAck to America, and now back to China, may be just stupid enough to stay. Hawkeye
Every o9ther year or so, I weed through the hundreds of books in my personal library and donate the ones that I know I will not re-read over and over again throughout the years. Cloud Mountain is one book I will never part with. In fact, I think I am going to buy it again to have on my NOOK. I have read this novel 3 or 4 times now and each time sink deeper into the world it so vividly creates in my mind. I can see the main characters as they struggle to keep their love together in a time and place where asians just did not marry white women. It just wasn't "proper". They followed their hearts and took their vows and then the long journey of their life together began. We are immersed in their life as Paul's political beliefs bring the family to many places in the world. It is a tale that must be read to fully be understood. It is full of complexities and is the kind of book that is a great read the first time though, awesome the second time and amazing the third time. In my mind, this book is already a classic and I hope that some day Aimee Liu gets recognized for writing such a fine literary work of art.