As The Earth Turns Silver: Alison Wong
This fascinating novel follows the intertwined stories of two very different people struggling with the trials of daily life in early twentieth-century Wellington, New Zealand. Chung Yung, recently arrived from China, helps his older brother at their greengrocery in order to support his family back in China. At the same time, he must deal with overt racism in his new homeland and his growing affection for a local widow, Katherine McKechnie – herself struggling to raise two young children after the untimely (if not entirely unwelcome) death of her brutish husband. Against the backdrop of World War I, there is inevitable tragedy; however, this novel is ultimately very uplifting.
Had the publisher’s blurb not mentioned it, I would not have guessed that this was a first novel; the unfolding of plot and the development of interesting characters are both handled with the most assured skill. Such thorny issues as racism, women’s suffrage and class are also handled with a deft touch. I, for one, am very much looking forward to Alison Wong’s next literary endeavour.