22 Oct 2014

THE BINDING CHAIR.

THE BINDING CHAIR {Also published as The Binding Chair: A Visit From The Foot Emancipation Society} by KATHRYN HARRISON.

SOURCE: A re-read off our shelves.

BACK COVER BLURB: The magical tale of a young orphan's adventures after she flees rural China for turn-of-the-century Shanghai.
- Read more here.

FIRST SENTENCE {Apprenticeship}: The gatepost, stuccoed pink to match the villa, bore a glazed tile painted with a blue number, the same as that in the advertisement.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 41}: She'd learn never to move her skirt while sitting, never to move her legs while lying down, and never to wash her feet in the same basin as her face - otherwise she would be reborn as a pig.

MY THOUGHTS: Last read a number of years ago I decided to re-read this in order to decide whether or not I wanted to keep it/ pass it on/donate it to a charity shop.

Sadly not a novel I enjoyed second time around. I don't know whether my tastes have changed since I last read it or that at the time we had plenty of shelf space and I wasn't so strict with myself as to only keep books I knew I'd re-read at some point in time.

Whilst at heart a story of China The Binding Chair isn't written by a Chinese author. Not that this usually matters, after all how many paranormal novels are written by vampires, werewolves or the like? Its just that I felt the author did not write with authority or for that matter much conviction.

Not so much a confusing read as what I'd describe as a fragmented one. I'm afraid the to-ing and fro-ing between decades and cities not to mention main characters, May, and her niece/surrogate child, Alice, made for a disjointed story. 

A story of obsessions, of what it is to be beautiful, of the sometimes perverse nature of man's desire - the author makes a great (and very graphic) deal of how erotically enticing May's English husband (and her Chinese father before him) found her (and her mother's) bound feet - whilst the book does go some way in exploring the cost to women I'm afraid for me much was eclipsed by the fact that at times it felt as if the author relied too heavily on shock tactics where none were needed.



14 comments:

Kelly said...

I'm afraid this is one that doesn't really appeal to me to start with, but now you have me thinking.....

I wonder if I were to go back and read books I enjoyed in years past, would I enjoy them as much now? Maybe deep down, that's one reason I never re-read. I've always been guilty of hanging on to books in hopes one of my kids would want to read them someday. At least now that they don't live at home, I can pass them on if I think they'll like them rather than putting them on my shelf.

Suko said...

I'm sorry you did not enjoy this one more, the second time around. Thank you for sharing your honest thoughts, Tracy.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Sorry you didn't really enjoy this one the second time around. That does happen!

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

I always find it interesting how we view a book the second time around. Enjoyed this review!

Stephanie@Fairday's Blog said...

Sorry this one wasn't better the second time around. The good news- you have more shelf space. :)

Melliane said...

It's always so interesting to re read books to see where we stand. I don't do that a lot anymore because I have to many to read but it's a good idea. I love to see how our taste had changed or not.

Brian Joseph said...

I do think that there are books that I read in the past that I would not enjoy so much now.

I think that such an experience really tells us a lot about ourselves and how we change.

Heather said...

I have not read this one, but did read and enjoy Snowflower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See which dealt with foot binding and the relationship between two girls from different stations in life.

Literary Feline said...

It certainly sounds good! Orphan, China, historical . . . I am sorry it wasn't better the second time around. I wonder if I would like it . . .

Brandi Kosiner said...

Sad to hear it was confusing and fragmented

Claudine G. said...

I think reading tastes do change. It's happened to me before as well. Would be interesting to re-read several of my favourite novels to see if I still like them as much, or maybe even more.

Barbara Fisher said...

Some books stand the test of time but obviously this wasn’t one of them. Never mind, you now have room for something new on your shelf.

Chrys Fey said...

I love stories set in China! Thanks for sharing. I'll have to check it out. Have you ever read Snow Moon by Bette Bao Lord? That was a good book. :)

Stephanie Faris said...

I find it very interesting to read a book I enjoyed years ago and not enjoy it the second time around. That happened with a children's book I read recently...and I had the same dilemma. Had my tastes just changed or was the book bad all along and I was too young to know it? In my case, I think it was the latter.