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Dragon Springs Road, by Janie Chang.

September 7, 2016

Dragon Springs Road, by Janie Chang.  William Morrow Paperbacks, 400 pages. Forthcoming January 2017.

3 stars

A simply told novel about the coming of age of a girl in Shanghai in the early twentieth century in which she is aided through her difficulties by a spirit Fox.

Janie Chang was born in Taiwan, and has lived in the Philippines, Iran, Thailand and New Zealand.  She now lives in Vancouver, Canada.  Her first novel, Three Souls, was published in 2014 (See my review).  Dragon Springs Road will be available next January.

This novel begins in 1908, when Jialing is left alone by her mother in the abandoned dwelling where they have lived.  She does not know her father, only that she is of mixed race, a condition for which dismissed and harassed.  A new family takes her in as a bond servant, and she is able to get an education in a mission school.  Finding a way to support herself after the family who had housed her is almost impossible, but she has made friends who are willing to help her.  She also begins a search for the mother who had left her.  A spirit fox assists her along the way and provides her with wonderful dreams of the Chinese countryside.

In some ways, Dragon Springs Road is a better and more enjoyable book than Chang’s first novel.  The problems I had with Three Souls have been corrected.  The spirit Fox, who can appear as a fox or a woman, is graceful and appealing.  Although the facts of prostitution are openly present, sexuality is not overdone.  At times the book seems to be written for a young adult audience.  The book makes no attempt to be great literature, but I recommend it for those looking for a casual novel set in China.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 7, 2016 4:23 pm

    I’m interested in novels set in China but this one wouldn’t appeal – the idea of a spirit fox would be a turn off from the start

    • September 14, 2016 9:44 am

      I would like to find more good China novels, too. Lisa See has done two about two woman in Shanghi, but I have generally liked the non-fiction better than the fiction. Check out “China” under categories on my blog for some possibilities. I did like the historical fiction about the Chinese woman artist.

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