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Under The Red Moon

READER’S REVIEWS

By Ellie Taren

December 2016

Well written, a excellent bit of history with clear and real story. I would recommend this book to anyone. Please read.

By Renata Brailovsky

December 2016

I enjoyed reading the book immensely. Could not put it down. The different characters are very well developed. Learned a lot about chinese history. I would say it is a historical novel. I recommend it highly.

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By Kathleen McDermott

December 2016

I read Under The Red Moon over the holidays and, knowing it was based on real-life experiences of your family and friends, found it absorbing and poignant.

     As one of the characters points out, Chinese history in the first half of the 20th century is that of trauma and dislocation. These characters embody that abstract idea, in different, fully human ways. The fictional sufferings--and strengths--of three sisters (along with Brook ma-ma and Purple Jade, as well as the two key men€ (Yung and Donald) bring China's sufferings and strengths to vivid life.

     I also understand better the enduring resilience of Chinese cultural and family traditions.

By Robert Hildreth

December 2016

Under the Red Moon, Ms Kwei's historical novel, is a story of mid-20th century China. She shows a thorough knowledge of her subject as well as a keen writing skill.

     The story is woven though the tumultuous and dangerous lives of three sisters which gives it an immediacy and human interest. It is a book that once you pick it up, you won't want to put it down.

By Jill Maneschi

January 2017


Amy Kwei’s sequel novel to ‘A Concubine for the Family’ is a masterful blend of family narrative and post-World War II Chinese history. Between the moving first chapters and the dramatic final ones the reader is led on a revelatory journey of young romance, hope for the future, terrible tribulations, stoic endurance in spite of  enormous odds and a final rescue of most of the characters.

      The dramatic history of family and country is accomplished by some heart-stopping writing and competent use of simile, for example, ‘the distant hills undulated like a mythical dragon racing alongside the train’ (page 227) and ‘like oil boiling inside a cauldron her emotions surfaced as if the suffering were alive within her again’ (page 335). I invite readers to find for themselves other examples of Amy Kwei’s fine writing; there are too many for me to list.

      I found the blend of insights obtained from both the Confucian and the Christian traditions heart-warming and loved the inclusion of  the enigmatic, therefore thought-provoking, poetry of Tu Fu. These quotes provide a sharp contrast to the platitudes of Chairman Mao which also feature in the novel.

     It is a coincidence that I am writing this review in Sydney (Australia) during the celebrations of the Chinese New Year. The Opera House, Harbour Bridge and Town Hall are illuminated and fireworks adorn the sky. In a local paper I find the recipe for ‘Beggar’s Chicken’, the favourite dish of one of the characters in this novel. I read with interest that the chicken is cooked whole because this represents abundance and completeness. As in her previous novel the author’s interest in food and a love of cooking is apparent.

     In the context of tasty, nourishing food I took note of the vivid descriptions of composting in Wei Village chapters. As a keen gardener and composter myself I know its value in the production of home-grown vegetables. In the particular cases being described the enriched soil provided nourishment which no doubt saved lives.

     Once again I congratulate Ms Kwei on a great read.