At a time of mystery and cruelty ... in an ancient land of breathtaking beauty and exotic surprise ... a courageous woman triumphs over her world's ultimate tragedy.
Behind the garden walls of the House of Chang, pampered daughter Spring Moon is born into luxury and privilege. But the tempests of change sweep her into a new world one of hardship, turmoil, and heartbreak, one that threatens to destroy her husband, her family, and her darkest secret love. Through a tumultuous lifetime, Spring Moon must cling to her honor, to the memory of a time gone by, and to a destiny, foretold at her birth, that has yet to be fulfilled.
About the Author
Bette Bao Lord has based this story largely on the days when she herself was a newcomer to America. She is the author of Spring Moon, nominated for the American Book Award for First Novel, and Eighth Moon.
Read an Excerpt
By Bette Lord
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2005 Bette Lord
All right reserved.
One morning a reader knocked on my door in Beijing, where my husband, Winston, was serving as American ambassador to China. There stood a stranger asking for Bette Bao Lord. Her face was oddly shaped, her speech most polite. I hesitated, dreading another avid tourist from somewhere Stateside wanting an impromptu guided tour of the embassy from the ambassador's wife.
The stranger said simply, "I've come seven thousand miles just to see her." That did it. I invited her to tea.
The explanation began more than a decade earlier with her surprise divorce. Stunned by her predicament at middle age, and her children married, she resolved to abandon the suburbia she knew for traveling far and wide in search of the extraordinary. She floated down the Amazon in a canoe and soared over the Alps in a balloon as part of a string of such feats that illuminated her brave new life for years. Eventually she had to settle for a less strenuous existence. On the plane to buy a house on her favorite Greek isle, she read a book she had snatched off a shelf while racing through the airport--Spring Moon.
My tale set in China long past elicited her own aching thoughts of family and home. She felt a kinship with Spring Moon that transcended culture, vicissitudes, time, and space. She had to fly back to America before adopting, once and for all, a life of exile.
Her son embraced her as she stepped unsteadily from the plane. Upon closer inspection, he asked, "Mother, how do you feel?"
"Awfully tired. The flight. It must be the flight."
"That's not it. You're going straight to the hospital." She could not change his mind; after all, he was an excellent doctor.
The tests found cancer of the jawbone. Her son urged its immediate removal. She balked, sincerely believing death was far preferable to dying piece by piece.
Her son pleaded, "You've been away so long. If you won't undergo surgery for yourself, do it for your family."
Stated thus, she had no choice but to consent to the excision of her left jaw.
Now I knew why her face was so oddly shaped, but I was no closer to knowing why she had flown halfway across the world to see me.
Sensing my puzzlement, she said, "Before my surgery, I vowed if I were still cancer-free five years after the operation, I'd go in search of Bette Bao Lord to express my gratitude in person. You see, if I had not happened to read Spring Moon, I would surely have bought a house and died that year alone on that loveliest of lovely Greek isles."
Other readers have written to claim my fiction is not fiction at all but a story I absconded from life. Some went so far as to name the true identity of one of my characters, who, more often than not, just happened to be a distant relative of theirs. A few were adamant in their belief that Spring Moon's life was actually that of yours truly, despite the indisputable fact that Bette Bao Lord was not over a hundred years old. At first I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Today, I luxuriate in the delicious notion that, to these readers, my heroine is real.
Of course, actual events do trigger twists and turns in historical novels. Mine were no exception. When I was just learning to speak English at P.S. 8 in Brooklyn, my parents used to take me along whenever they went to play mahjong with friends. I especially enjoyed going to "Grand Uncle" Hu's. He was the picture of rectitude in his dress and demeanor. In contrast, his small abode was stacked helter-skelter floor to ceiling with books, minus the convenience of shelves but not without order ...
Excerpted from Spring Moon by Bette Lord Copyright © 2005 by Bette Lord. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
|1.||The New Patriarch||27|
|14.||The Good Wife||189|
|15.||The New Year||194|
|17.||The Silken Cord||208|
|22.||To Fool the Gods||267|
|27.||A Person of Character||326|
|29.||The Dragon Boat||341|
|30.||Riding the Tiger||346|
|33.||Mother and Daughter||366|
|35.||A Print of the Heart||387|
What People are Saying About This
“I loved this book...Spellbinding.”
“War and love and money and revolutionand dynasty...A remarkable book.”
Reading Group Guide
Behind the garden walls of the House of Chang, Spring Moon is born into an exclusive world of luxury and privilege. Her servant, Plum Blossom, attends to her every need and inadvertently alters the course of her life forever. Her uncle, Bold Talent, who has returned to China from the United States with radical new ideas, educates her against the wishes of the family, and intervenes at the moment when Spring Moon most needs his help.
But the tempests of change sweep Spring Moon into a new world -- one of hardship, turmoil, and heartbreak; one that threatens to destroy her husband, her family, and her darkest secret love. Through her tumultuous lifetime, Spring Moon must cling to her honor, to the memory of a time gone by -- and to a destiny, foretold at her birth that has yet to be fulfilled.
- At the beginning of the novel, Spring Moon's happy existence is thrown into turmoil because of the family's plan for her servant, Plum Blossom. Her young uncle, Noble Talent, explains: "Plum Blossom is not yours ... [S]he belongs to the House of Chang." How do honor and duty factor into family decision making in the House of Chang?
- How does the death of Old Venerable affect Bold Talent's life and responsibilities? How is Bold Talent received upon his untimely return to Soochow? What steps does he take to shed the Western manners and behaviors and reacquaint himself with Chinese traditions and customs?
- How would you characterize the initial relationship between Spring Moon and her uncle, Bold Talent? What elements of Spring Moon's character does Bold Talent admire? Why does he agree to teach SpringMoon how to read and write? How does the House of Chang react to Bold Talent's decision to educate Spring Moon?
- What aspects of China's political life cause unrest between Bold Talent and Noble Talent? How does Noble Talent feel about China's entering into agreements that weaken its power as a nation? When Soochow becomes a treaty port, how does Bold Talent react to protect China's interests?
- Discuss Spring Moon's reaction to the news of her arranged marriage with Pan Tai Tai's son? Why does she go to Bold Talent and reveal the news of her marriage to him? Were you surprised by Bold Talent's willingness to intervene to rescue Spring Moon? Why does the Matriarch encourage him to find a husband for Spring Moon? Were you at all surprised by his choice of a husband? Why does Spring Moon feign grief at the news of her newly arranged marriage to Glad Promise?
- Describe Spring Moon's mode of travel on her ten-day journey from Soochow to Peking. What does her treatment as a new bride suggest about the roles and opportunities of upper-class women in China in the late 19th and early 20th centuries? How does Spring Moon and Glad Promise's wedding night defy tradition?
- Discuss the significance of ancestors and filial obligation in Spring Moon. How important are ancestors and ancestor worship in this novel? How is the role of ancestors evident in rites of passage like births, betrothals, New Year's celebrations, weddings, and deaths?
- What motivates Glad Promise to return to Peking and leave his pregnant wife? Why does Spring Moon decide not to bind Lustrous Jade's feet? How does the Woo clan treat her and her daughter after Glad Promise's departure?
- What changes does Spring Moon find in Soochow when she returns with Lustrous Jade from Peking? How is she received by her family? How would you describe Bold Talent's marriage to Golden Virtue? How does Spring Moon's return affect that relationship? Discuss the implications of Spring Moon's decision to conceal her pregnancy and the birth and adoption of Enduring Promise from Bold Talent and his wife.
- How does Lustrous Jade's awakening to Christianity and Communism affect her relationship with Spring Moon? How do Lustrous Jade and Resolute Spirit get entangled in affairs with Noble Talent? Discuss how Lustrous Jade's political fervor differs from that of her granduncle.
- What elements of Chinese history did you find most compelling as they played out in the chronicle of the House of Chang? What aspects of Spring Moon's experience resonated most for you as a reader?
About the author
President Clinton hailed Ms. Bao Lord as "someone who writes so powerfully about the past and is working so effectively to shape the future." Her first novel, Spring Moon, was an American Book Award nominee for best first novel and an international bestseller. Ms. Lord is also the author of Eighth Moon, In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson, and The Middle Heart.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Spring Moon is a thought provoking tale; filled with culture and history. The story begins in the late 1800’s and progresses through the years that follow, into the beginning stages of the Chinese Civil War. Spring Moon is a Chinese girl, born into wealth; initially care free and filled with life. Her life however, becomes filled with loss and hardship as life takes its toll, and forces that will push for the war begin to take effect. From reading this book, you will find that though ideologies and generations will clash, you can still care for another despite this. That even as we grow and abandon the views we once had on life, there is always a shred left that reflects who we truly are. The book itself is very detailed, and it is apparent that extensive research was put in to make it accurate. A wide range of thoughts and emotions are portrayed to further give the reader a further insight on how these troubled times were. It is easily to get attached to the main characters; being well written, and able to carry the story. Although these characters are likeable; the characters are also its downfall. An extremely large amount of characters are introduced; leaving no time for them to be further developed. Characters are introduced, and are often forgotten after a few pages. This naturally leaves a lot to be desired. Even many of the major characters are never truly developed; often making the reader feeling disconnected from the relationships between the characters. In a few places, feeling disconnected from the characters themselves. Despite these flaws, the story is still well told, and very interesting. This book is best suited for those deeply interested in history, or in Asian culture. Being especially rich on Chinese customs of the time. For readers that enjoy action-packed tales should stay away. Having a very slow pace, the reader will become bored at times; and may find themselves utterly bored. Those that enjoy this book are bound to like Bette Bao Lords other novels as well; such as Eight Moon and The Middle Heart. Both which deal with Chinese history, and the troubles during those times. Out of ten, this book receives a seven from this reviewer; for telling a great story, filled with history. But suffers from the lack of connections to be made with the characters. If you are a history buff, you will surely enjoy yourself reading this.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Spring Moon. The characters were varied and quite interesting showing the wealthy and poor side of Chinese life in the late 1800's. The author does a very good job in describing the beauty of the traditions of the Chinese while also debating the need for revolution. I am not very familiar with Chinese history, but the author was able to weave in the history very well (although I didn't understand all of the various factions). Overall Spring Moon was captivating and well-worth reading.
The book 'Spring Moon' is a outstanding book. I thought it was boring at first but it's ok
I loved this book! I bought it to read for after a test, and I made the mistake of just reading the first few pages, and I couldn't stop. This is one of the BEST books that I have read!!!