A Fascinating New Release! 5-Stars
The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds is a fascinating story about Chye Hoon, a Malayan-Chinese woman who struggled to keep her Nyonya/Baba heritage alive; in an ever-changing world. The story takes place in Malaya (old Malaysia) during the 19th and 20th century.
The book begins with Chye Hoon, the narrator, as a high-spirited child, known by many, for her dragon temper. Chye Hoon envied her brother’s education and privileged life. Girls in her family weren’t allowed to go to school. They were taught instead, at home to cook, sew, and clean. Although Chye Hoon didn’t care for spending her days in a kitchen, she accepted her role, in the family, and made the most of it. Chye Hoon’s parents were afraid that their strong-willed daughter would never marry, but Peng Choon, an accountant, proved them wrong. It was Chye Hoon’s robust and independent spirit that attracted him to her. They had ten children together, and Chye Hoon made sure, that every single one of them, including the girls, had an education.
To keep from losing her sons, Chye Hoon reluctantly allowed Western ways to infiltrate her world. In the end, though, Chye Hoon wished that she had been more welcoming. She regretted calling her friend’s Scottish husband, a White-Devil, because, in truth, he was not a devil at all, but a good man. A man who had helped her. The book captures the essence of Malaya, the culture, the people, and their dialect. The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds, brought Malaya, alive for me, so much so, that I felt as if I had been there. This is not an easy-breezy read, but a book that will stay with the reader, long after they’ve turned the last page.
Many thanks to the publisher, and NetGalley, for allowing me to read this advanced review copy.
~5 out of 5 stars~Review by Peg Glover