I love this review of Little Paradise written by Australian journalist and author, Helene Chung. Her book Ching Chong China Girl is published by Harper Collins.
Thursday 25 March 2010
Gabrielle Wang, Little Paradise (teenage fiction) is a readers paradise: a love story drawn from life with emotional colour, taut brushwork and a perfect degree of tension. The drama between the two young lovers, Mirabel, the Australian-born daughter of a Chinese fruit merchant, and JJ, the handsome Kuomintang officer, unfolds with conviction against the backdrop of World War II in Melbourne with its influx of American sailors and dance halls and the privations and political manoeuvrings in once-glamorous Shanghai as the corrupt Nationalist government falls to the Communists.
Beautifully written and structured, the novel begins and ends with a visit to a Chinese soothsayer but seamlessly blends Mirabels love for dress design and love for JJ with the vicissitudes of family life in Australia and China, attitudes to foreigners, the plight of Jews, the question of respectability and the unmarried mother, and the motif of a white cat and the music of birds.