Thanks to the wonderful Caitlin Raynor, I’ve had Peach Blossom Spring by Melissa Fu sitting on my TBR since July 2021 so I’m thrilled finally to be able to share my review. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in this blog tour.
Published by Headline imprint Wildfire on 17th March 2022, Peach Blossom Spring is available for purchase through the links here.
Peach Blossom Spring
With every misfortune there is a blessing and within every blessing, the seeds of misfortune, and so it goes on, until the end of time.
It is 1938 in China, and the Japanese are advancing. A young mother, Meilin, is forced to flee her burning city with here four-year-old son, Renshu, and embark on an epic journey across China. For comfort, they turn to their most treasured possession – a beautifully illustrated hand scroll. Its ancient fables offer solace and wisdom as they travel through their ravaged country, seeking refuge.
Years later, Renshu has settled in America as Henry Dao. His daughter is desperate to understand her heritage, but he refuses to talk about his childhood. How can he keep his family safe in this new land when the weight of his history threatens to drag them down?
Spanning continents and generations, Peach Blossom Spring is a bold and moving look at the history of modern China, told through the story of one family. It’s about the power of our past, the hope for a better future, and the search for a place to call home.
My Review of Peach Blossom Spring
War is coming to China.
Peach Blossom Spring is a sumptuous, mesmerising book that I loved unreservedly.
The first half of the story is a heartbreaking reflection of man’s inhumanity to man, that is being acted out in modern day Europe even as I read about 1930s China and Japan. What Melissa Fu achieves so flawlessly is to translate the macrocosm of international events into the microcosm of individual lives in a way that hits the reader with emotional force right in their very soul. As a result, Peach Blossom Spring is at once historical, modern and, I fear, prescient. I couldn’t tear myself away.
Reading Melissa Fu’s exquisite prose is to be transported back in time with Meilin and Renshu and to be immersed in the story through assiduously researched historical detail. The use of the senses, the glorious descriptions, and the perfectly wrought relationships all combine into a wonderful, wonderful story so that I felt the narrative rather than simply read it.
I thought the characterisation was pitch perfect. Henry’s transition from being Renshu, Melin’s bravery and stoicism, Lily’s search for identity and the depiction of even the most minor characters feels vivid and real. I came to know these people every bit as much as I know people in real life.
Alongside the epic sweep of the plot are themes that reflect humanity in all its guises. Melissa Fu explores what it means to be fractured from your cultural identity. She considers what makes us who we are, what the nature of family really means and how we can carry or set down the burden of the past as we live in the present. Peach Blossom Spring unrolls just as beautifully as the scroll Meilin owns.
I absolutely adored Peach Blossom Spring. I found it moving, engrossing and completely captivating. I feel it will resonate with me for a very long time. It’s quite wonderful.
About Melissa Fu
Melissa Fu grew up in Northern New Mexico and now lives near Cambridge, UK, with her husband and children. With academic backgrounds in physics and English, she has worked in education as a teacher, curriculum developer, and consultant. Melissa was the regional winner of the Words and Women 2016 Prose Competition and was a 2017 Apprentice with the London-based Word Factory.
Her work appears in several publications including The Lonely Crowd, International Literature Showcase, Bare Fiction, Wasafiri Online, and The Willowherb Review. In 2019, her debut poetry pamphlet, Falling Outside Eden, was published by the Hedgehog Poetry Press. In 2018/2019, Melissa received an Arts Council England, Developing Your Creative Practice grant and was the David TK Wong Fellow at the University of East Anglia.
Peach Blossom Spring is her first novel.