I couldn’t put the book down for many reasons. It was smart, funny and overall, a very engaging read. Three things really struck me:
1. Isabelle, with all her insecurities and self-doubts (about her identity, talents, allure, etc.) was very much like me. I could really identify with her character and I deemed her my soul sister!
2. The smattering of Mandarin words (written in Romanized hanyu pinyin) used throughout the book encouraged me to pick up Mandarin again.
To give you a taste, I asked Ann to share a little bit about herself (do check out her blog) and her book and I hope you treat yourself or a friend to it.
Q+A with author Ann Mah
What inspired you to write this novel?
In 2003, my husband and I got married and a month later we moved from New York to Beijing. I gave up a job I loved in New York book publishing to become a diplomat’s wife. Initially, I was a little stunned – and I missed my job so much it felt like I’d amputated a limb – but slowly the local Chinese food ignited a spark to explore. This book grew out of those experiences.
You’ve admitted that Isabelle’s story is inspired by your own life. But how much is true to (your) life and how much is fiction? Did you embellish Isabelle’s character/life with elements you wish were present in your life?