Like all good literary heroines, Li Lan is motherless, impoverished, educated beyond the custom of the times, and uninterested in marriage, especially to someone who's dead. Since she lives in 19th-century Malacca, the British colony in what is now Malaysia, this is a situation whose disadvantages Jane Austen herself would appreciate.
Martha T. Moore - USA Today
In her debut novel, Choo tells the unlikely story of a young Chinese woman who marries a dead man...an ancient custom among the Chinese in Malaysia called “spirit marriage.” ... Choo’s clear and charming style creates an alternate reality where the stakes are just as high as in the real world, combining grounded period storytelling with the supernatural.
Li Lan is from an upper-class but financially destitute Chinese family in Malaya (modern-day Malaysia). When the wealthy Lim family proposes that she enter into a spirit marriage with their recently deceased son, she reluctantly accepts.... Choo’s first novel explores in a delicate and thought-provoking way the ancient custom of spirit marriages, which were thought to appease restless spirits. —Caitlin Bronner, MLIS, Pratt Inst., Brooklyn
Choo's remarkably strong and arresting first novel explores the concept of Chinese "spirit marriages" in late-nineteenth-century Malaya through the eyes of the highly relatable Li Lan.... With its gripping tangles of plot and engaging characters, this truly compelling read is sure to garner much well deserved attention.
Young Li Lan's family was once rich and respected...[so] she's shocked and disturbed when her father asks her if she'll consent to become a ghost bride to the dead son of Malacca's wealthiest family.... Choo's multifaceted tale is sometimes difficult to follow with its numerous characters and subplots, but the narrative is so rich in Chinese folklore, mores and the supernatural that it's nonetheless intriguing and enlightening. A haunting debut.
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