By Edie Crabtree
For me, back-to-school time, while meaning the return of the alarm clock and the necessity to stock up on juice boxes, also equals the return of “me time,” which translates loosely to “time for a good book.” I always have a long summer reading list, but the reality is that I don’t get many titles crossed off that list, as the summer always proves to be busier and faster than I imagined it would be.
So, imagine my delight, when I discovered that on Sept. 13 at 7 p.m., one of my favorite authors, Lisa See, will be coming to speak about her new novel, “Dreams of Joy,” as part of the Newport Beach Library Foundation’s “Library Live!” program. This is great news, since this book is actually at the top of my list.
Chinese culture is a prominent theme in See’s writing. Through her stories, we have been able to experience what it must have been like to grow up in a culture steeped in the idea of filial piety. We have felt for the young girls who experienced the painful custom of foot-binding, and the helplessness of being essentially traded through marriage contracts in order to better their families’ social standings.
However, we have also witnessed how triumphant the human spirit can be, as well as the ways that these girls, and in fact, we as women, are able to form deep bonds through our shared experiences.
In her preceding novel, “Shanghai Girls,” we first met sisters May and Pearl, who were sent as mail-order brides to the United States. Through incredibly rich storytelling, we came to love these sisters and were able to share their journey with them. And now, in “Dreams of Joy,” we continue the story when we follow Pearl’s devestated daughter Joy as she flees to China to search for her real father, while her mother desperately pursues her. It is a dual quest marked by their encounters with the nation’s intolerant Communist culture.
See is the author of six previous novels, including the critically acclaimed New York Times bestsellers “Shanghai Girls,” “Peony in Love,” “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan,” “Flower Net” (which was nominated for an Edgar Award), “The Interior,” and “Dragon Bones.”
She is also the author of the widely acclaimed memoir, “On Golden Mountain.”
In addition to writing books, See was the Publishers Weekly West Coast correspondent for 13 years. As a freelance journalist, her articles have appeared in Vogue, Self, and More, as well as in numerous book reviews around the country.
“Snow Flower and the Secret Fan,” which she spoke about at the NBPL in 2006, has also been made into a feature film, and is currently playing in theaters.
Since 1995, “Library Live!” has brought leading authors, historians, artists, and critics to the Newport Beach Public Library to discuss their work and contemporary culture. It is their mission to connect readers and writers in an ongoing effort to provide intellectual nourishment to curious minds.
Anyone who enjoys See’s writing, or just a good read in general should make it a point to attend this spectacular event. I know I will…but don’t bother me in the mean-time, I have an appointment with an alarm clock, and my newly-renamed fall reading list.
For event details, visit nbplfoundation.org or call 949-548-2411. For more information about Lisa See, visit http://www.lisasee.com/