November 2021

 

1786090821

November’s book was How Much of These Hills is Gold by C Pam Zhang.

This novel tells the story of two orphans, Lucy and Sam, who are roaming a hostile landscape in the hills of Northern California with the remains of their dead father stowed in a trunk strapped across their horse’s back. During their trek, the two siblings recall events from their family’s past and their attempts to prospect for gold that always ended in tragedy. The novel spans the years between 1842 and 1867.

Lucy and Sam are American born but are of Chinese descent. Sam was born a girl but identifies as male. Their father, Ba, was an unsuccessful gold prospector who never gave up his dream of striking it rich, and briefly succeeded at mining a deposit of gold before the family’s wealth was stolen by greedy townsfolk. The children’s mother died giving birth to a stillborn son.

After many setbacks, the siblings finally find a place to bury their father. Once this task is completed, the narration shifts to Ba, who tells a different tale of the family’s past from the one Lucy believes to be true. Among other revelations, Ba reveals that the children’s mother didn’t die in childbirth, but stole the family’s last piece of gold to make her escape, leaving Ba to hold the family together as best as he could.

Lucy’s narrative continues after she and Sam part ways. She drifts through life, first as a laundress, then as the friend of a rich girl. Sam returns years later and explains that he struck gold, which was then stolen by some white men who are now pursuing him because he stole it back. The siblings flee to San Francisco, where Lucy puts Sam on a ship bound for China. The gold men catch up with Lucy, who then works as a prostitute to pay off Sam’s debt. When she is released from her obligation a year later, she still doesn’t know what she wants or where to find a true home.

The novel explores race and the question of where immigrants are allowed to belong. Alongside Lucy and Sam’s family story are the stories of the genocide and persecution of Native Americans, the colonisation of the West and the exploitation of the land by desperate settlers and greedy opportunists.
During discussion there were comments about the quality and style of the writing (this is a debut novel for the writer). Some members felt that the writer had been too ambitious and not quite pulled it off with this novel, though some liked her use of imagery (specifically, the tiger) and her inclusion of the Chinese language throughout the book.
While some of the group appreciated the writer’s ability to convey the hostility and vastness of the landscape, overall the novel was considered quite bleak, and the ending unsatisfying.

Ratings: Lynda, Janet and Viv 2.5 Nicola, Pauline and Margie 3 and Dianne and Di 3.5.

Next month we’ll get together 13/12 at 6:30pm to celebrate a great year of reading. We will be back 10/01/22 to discuss The rain before it falls by Johnathan Coe hope to see you there and Happy Reading!

 

About Us

We are a group that gets together once a month to discuss good books. Each of us gets to choose a book on a rotational basis, preferably one outside our personal comfort zone – we try to keep the trash to ourselves. After the discussion, we comment on other books we read that month. Most of the time we remain friends after the meeting.

Preece HouseWe normally meet at the 1948 heritage Preece House, 50 Nerang St Bischof Pioneer Park, Nerang (next to 54 Nerang St. shops. This venue has no toilet but here’s one in the park) on the second Monday of every month from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. excluding Public Holidays. A small contribution is required towards the rent of the room, but not if you are a first timer. The amount depends on the number of people attending.
One book title is chosen each month and we all read that book. There is a ‘host’ who introduces and co-ordinates the discussion. The role of host is rotated around the group so that each member has the opportunity to nominate their book (it could also be an author, theme or genre). The host also acts as chairperson for that meeting.
Although we are not a social club (we are readers), we occasionally attend literary events, relevant movies or plays here at the Gold Coast, Brisbane or Byron Bay. We conform to basic meeting practices and everyone has an equal opportunity to express their opinion. Everyone’s interpretation is valid, as long as it’s expressed respectfully.
We welcome any new members who share our aims and are happy to contribute to our group. Newcomers are not required to have read the book to attend the first meeting and no contribution is required from them.
Feel free to have a look at our Booklist for 2021 and Newsletters in the sidebar. If you are reading this blog in a mobile device at the bottom of the page.

CONTACT DETAILS

We meet from 6:30 to 8:30 PM on the 2nd Monday of every month at the heritage listed Preece House located at Bischof Park, Nerang Street (next corner White St), Nerang next door to shops at 54 Nerang Street. If the Covid19 restrictions for live meetings are on, we meet online. Please contact us for info on meetings that fall on Public Holidays.
For more information use the contact form.
 

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save