Sunday, August 19, 2007

A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo

Twenty-three year old Zhuang or "Z" has come to London for a year to learn English so she can assist her parents with their shoe manufacturing business in rural China. The novel follows Z through that time as she tries to master English, learns to become an individual in a society that offers much more freedom than China and, most importantly, falls in love with a fortysomething Englishman. Her intimate relationship with the unnamed man forms the bulk of the story. The reader sees Z's life through her own eyes--her vocabulary and language skills improve as the book progresses. At times, the novel is heartbreaking (the boyfriend doesn't love Z as much as she loves him) yet humorous (for example, Z's descriptions of british food and customs) and memorable for the depiction of a woman coming into her own.

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