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We arrived in Macau at the end of the Year of the Golden Pig. Apparently a golden pig year comes around only once every sixty, and it brings good fortune. So when we came to make Macau our home, at the backside end of this golden pig year, there were fat, pink pigs dancing in bank ads, sparkly cartoon pigs wearing Chinese pajamas hanging in the local bakery, and tiny souvenir golden pigs for sale at the post office. All those pigs around me were comforting, with their full snouts and chubby grins. Welcome to Macau! they snorted. You’ll like it here. We do! I was willing to accept any good luck a golden hog could throw at me.
Macau: the bulbous nose of China, a peninsula and two islands strung together like a three-bead necklace, though by now the sand and silt have crept up and almost covered the silk of the ocean in between. Gobbled up, like most everything in Macau, by Progress. Progress and gambling. This tiny country, only twenty-eight square kilometers, once a sleepy Portuguese outpost, is the only place in China where you can drop a coin into a slot or lay a chip on kidney-shaped lawns of soft, green felt. The Vegas of the East. Bright lights, little city, fast cash.
We stepped off the ferry from Hong Kong on the eighth of January 2008. The date had a nice ring to it. A fresh start, a clean slate, a new beginning. We arrived with suitcases full of the light, breezy clothes usually reserved for the brief but seductive British summer. We were full of naïve optimism about our new life adventure. My Australian husband and his red-haired, blush-of-cheek English rose. We were babes in the woods.
The January winter was bitter in more ways than one. It was one of the coldest on record, and we were freezing in our bright, thin clothes. Every morning the sky was the color of milk. The apartment had no central heating, and it took us some time to realize we needed a dehumidifier. The walls started to bloom with a dark mold, which spread like a growing bruise, and I couldn’t feel my fingers in the evenings. It was the kind of damp cold that settles deep in the marrow of your bones and refuses to budge.
This is where I will start. Our life in this cold month, before the Year of the Rat began. When we couldn’t run any longer from realities; when life hunted us down and found us. It followed us all the way from Melbourne to London, London to Macau. All that running, and still we were discovered, no longer able to hide out in the meaningless details of our life—who is making breakfast and could you remember to pick up the dry cleaning.
It was time to find a life for myself. To make something out of nothing. The end of hope and the beginning of it too.
Posted June 20, 2012
When I start reading a new book there are a couple of things that have to happen in order for me to one: start reading the book, and two: continue reading the book. The cover of the book is not always important for me but I do love a cover that captures my eye and I sit back and say "oh now that's a beautiful cover" but sometimes I find a cover of a book so beautiful or interesting it can be the only reason I get it and happy I did because it turns out it was an amazing book, but, sometimes that also back fires on me as well. Also if I can't get past the first 2 - 3 chapters most of the time I will put the book aside for a bit but I will always pick it up at a later time, I NEVER not finish a book, it's kind of like a "B" movie, ya just gotta find out what happens at the end of it lol.
Hannah Tunnicliffe has done both, created a beautiful cover very fitting for this book and I had absolutely no problem getting past the first 2 - 3 chapters, in fact the very first chapter had me captured and happily reading and not wanting to put it down at all. Now I'm not sure if you all know this about me, but some of my love's are food lol (who's isnt), a great book, and travelling (which I never get to do). I have always been very interested in Asian culture, it's beauty, serinity, work ethic, respectfulness, lanuage, their love of family, it is a place I have always wanted to travel to. Hannah's detailed descriptions of not only the character's she has created but the cafe Grace has built right down to Macau, China made me feel like I was right there in the story. I could see, feel, hear, and smell everything she was describing, some books go overboard with the details so much that it leaves nothing to the imagination, that was not the case here.
I have to say for a debut novel Hannah has come out with a huge bang! I really loved this book, it is an easy read as the story flows with all the right elements in all the right places. The characters, oh how I loved them all, I made a connection with all of them from Grace to Rilla, Gigi and Marjory and Gigi's grandmother Yok Lan. Grace started out as a weak character but given her current circumstances you understand why, and I really don't think it was that she was weak as much as it was she just didn't understand how to break away from her sadness the was overtaking her. Once Grace decided to open the cafe and the others entered her life that's when the cloud started to lift from Grace's life and eye's.
This was a fabulous story, a great plot and ending, it made me smile, laugh out loud, even tear up at times, it was emotional and I think throughout the book we could at some point relate in someway to what Grace was either going through for feeling. It made me not want the story to end, it would be great to have a second book years later to see how things turned out for all of them. Bravo Hannah, Bravo, a wonderful debut novel and I can't wait to read more from you. I highly recommend this book and hope you all enjoy it as much as I did. Enjoy!!!
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