Written by Sui Sin Far, (pseudonym for Edith Maud Eaton
Publisher: A. C. McClurg
Genre: Short story collection, Classic
Original Language: English
Read from 2022-09-23 to 2022-11-27
Read in English
Review: Mrs. Spring Fragrance is a short story collection consisting of stories taking place mostly within Chinese communities in the US (seemingly around the Seattle area). Most of the book consists of short stories which are very much for adults, with a few short stories for children toward the end.
The short stories, as a whole, can be described as rather dark. The overarching theme is that of a clash between those who grow up in or moved to the US, taking on the culture and values you’d associate with the US (mostly women), and those who live their lives in the Chinese community of the US in what they see as the traditional Chinese way of life (mostly men). I don’t know to what extent the attitudes depicted are accurate - but I expect they are based on the lived experience of the author. Fortunately, these stories were written over 100 years ago, so I’d expect a lot to have changed since then. The stories mostly revolve around men with a possessive attitude toward their wives, and the ladies they want as their wives, and the stories just get darker and darker. Occasionally, I almost laughed out loud at the creativity with which a story which was always going to end badly ended up badly in a different, unexpected way.
Despite the thematic darkness of the main short stories, the stories for children are lovely! The general theme is that of “the greatest rewards and happiness come from making others happy”, and they follow a nice line of being fairytale-like while still not being entirely predictable.
Overall Mrs. Spring Fragrance was an interesting collection to read. Some stories are weaker than others, but at least half of them pack a proper punch.