Zen Cho, $2.99
Historical Fiction, 2012
Until I read Zen Cho’s The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo, I never knew life as a Chinese young lady in the 1920’s England is amazingly more open-minded than I’d ever imagine. Chinese girls hooking up with white men is one thing – that can be seen as a practical move (for money and all that). But a Chinese girl falling in love with a Hindu – well, that’s no big deal at all back in those days!
This short story is, I suppose, the author’s idea of transplanting a standard chick lit tale into the old days. Jade Yeo, our heroine, is a reviewer. She hungers for the kind of life led by the white people she considers sophisticated and posh, while never realizing that there is a nice guy in front of her all along. Yes, this is not exactly a new tale if one has read a couple of such stories before, so this is one story that relies heavily on the “exotic” factor to carry itself to the finish line.
So yes, that stereotypical snobby aunt who has lots of money. But aside from that, there isn’t much here to make me sit up and take notice. Maybe it’s because I’m Chinese, so I end up feeling that the author has failed to make this story more interesting. The heroine and various characters feel too much like modern day stereotypes. This is one story that could have brought up a bit more elements like cultural differences, traditional Chinese outlook on love, and such. Instead, The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo opts to be basically a chick lit story transported to the 1920’s in a rather superficial and cursory manner.