Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

Genres: community-life, crime, family, historical-fiction, murder-mystery, paranormal, romance
Formats: Hardcover(368 pages), Kindle, Nook
Published: August 6th 2013 by William Morrow (first published August 1st 2013)
Original title: The Ghost Bride
ISBN 0062227327 (ISBN13: 9780062227324) 
Purchase links: Amazon Barnes & Noble 
Literary awards: Indie Next Pick Aug (2013), Barnes & Noble Fall '13 Discover Great New Writers, Glamour Magazine Beach Read

From Amazon book blurp: Choo’s remarkably strong and arresting first novel explores the concept of Chinese spirit marriages in late-nineteenth-­century Malaya through the eyes of the highly relatable Li Lan, a poor but spunky young woman, who is approached by the wealthy family of a dead man to become his bride. Li Lan prefers to rebuff the unusual offer despite its implications of good social standing and financial rescue for her money-strapped family. But when her dreams are brusquely invaded by the rather unsavory dead man, Lim Tian Ching, she realizes she may already be in over her head. Her dead suitor’s living cousin, Tian Bai, now the family heir, further complicates matters as Li Lan wrestles with her very real attraction to him. As the angry ghost becomes more possessive in her dreams, and his family more demanding that she marry him, Li Lan’s involvement with the Lim family becomes even murkier and potentially dangerous. With its gripping tangles of plot and engaging characters, this truly compelling read is sure to garner much well-deserved attention. --Julie Trevelyan 

The title of the book captured my attention immediately. I just had to read it.
Li Lan, the eighteen-year-old narrator stemmed from a Chinese family who settled in Malaya in the 1800s. Although there were various other influences in their lives from the multitude of cultures present at the time, including the British influences, her family, as most Chinese families, still maintained their own belief systems. Hence it resulted in her being subjected to one of the traditions of providing prosperity and catering to all the needs of the deceased in the afterlife.
When her formerly affluent father landed in dire straits, losing his inherited wealth, he asked her to become the ghost bride to the deceased son of the Lim family. Through the meddling of his mother, a grieving woman, Lim Tian Ching accessed Li Lan's dreams, haunting and harassing her to become his wife. When she refused, ghost started to fly. Literary!
Through different avenues and assistants, she managed to meet up with more deceased members of both her and her supposedly new family-in-law, resulting in one fast-paced exhilarating journey through different worlds with different tutors in the form of different characters that died and were waiting to be called to Judgement Day. They would ultimately teach her enough so that she can meet love on her own terms in the end. And what a surprise it was.
I haven't read a book like this before and did not want to be trapped in a spiritual world much longer than the first few chapters, as it made me uncomfortable, but the writing was so good, that I just could not stop reading after I started! In the process I learnt so much more about all the different Malay cultures - I even looked up how to roast water melon seeds the right way.
The book is a complete testament to Chinese food, languages, beliefs, and cultural practices. Informative, thrilling, and evocative.
Mmm, I did not believe in ghosts before, but now I wonder.... ;-)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR(Goodreads profile): 
Yangsze Choo is a fourth generation Malaysian of Chinese descent. Due to a childhood spent in various countries such as Germany and Japan, she can eavesdrop (badly) in several languages. After graduating from Harvard, she worked as a management consultant and at a startup before writing her first novel. Yangsze eats and reads too much, and often does both at the same time.

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