Book Review: The Red Chamber by Pauline Chen
The Red Chamber by Pauline Chen
This is a hauntingly beautiful novel. It is a family saga which has been written as a new version of a great Chinese Masterpiece, The Dream of the Red Chamber. In Pauline Chen’s new version, The Red Chamber, Lin Daiyu goes to live with her aristocratic relatives after the death of her mother. Lin Daiya is educated, beautiful and spirited, but the new household threatens to break her with its rigid rules. She finds herself part of a highly competitive society of wives, concubines and servants, all out for power. Lin Diayu is envied for her looks and people are suspicious of her education. Lin Diayu makes even more enemies when she falls in the love with her cousin Baoyu who is adored by all...
Pauline Chen takes us into the exquisite women’s quarters of this 18th century palace, where the wealth hides a harsh truth – marriageable girls are traded like chattel for the family’s advancement. To choose to love is to risk everything. But then a political coup overthrows the emperor and plunges the once mighty family into poverty and Lin Daiyu and the other women of the household must fight for their survival.
This novel has it all – a sweeping, epic storyline, well-researched historical period detail, memorable characters and a plot that will surprise. This book is one to savour.