For fans of historical fiction, I have a stunning debut novel to share with you today. I’m delighted to be on the blog tour to share my book review of Peach Blossom Spring by Melissa Fu. How gorgeous is the cover design? I also think the book launch has been beautifully timed for spring (here in the UK) when the trees are waking up and starting to show off their delicate, colourful flowers.
Where are we Touring to?
For this debut novel, the author takes us on a journey from China to the island of Taiwan.
Before I share my book review of Peach Blossom Spring, here’s the background story. Oh and don’t miss the author notes at the end of my review, which shares even more insight into the inspiration behind the book.
Book Cover Notes
With every misfortune there is a blessing and within every blessing, the seeds of misfortune, and so it goes, 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 her 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 belong.
Spanning over 70 years and across multi-generations of the same family, Peach Blossom Spring begins in Changsha, China in 1938. It is a moving account of a mother (Meilin) and her son (Renshu). Meilin is an astonishingly strong and such a likeable character. She is a mother determined to protect her son at all costs to ensure that he has a brighter future. All of the characters in this book demonstrate the astonishing ways in which people can endure and survive during the conflict of war.
This debut novel had me gripped from the start, I couldn’t put it down. Through the authors writing I journeyed to the countries of China and Taiwan, both places I have never visited. By the end of the book I felt like I’d learned a lot about the culture, the people and the history of these two countries. That’s why I love reading books like this one. They take me on a journey and much like this book, I didn’t want my trip to end.
In places, this book may be a little challenging for some readers as it covers in some detail the subjects of conflict, war and poverty. The story is told with such compassion that I think most readers will appreciate the clarity of writing. Through her storytelling, the author helps us to understand the impact of war on families and communities not just during the conflict but for many years to come. This book is so relevant even today as we witness more conflict and suffering of others around the world, this could happen to any of us at any time.
Peach Blossom Spring is also a beautiful reminder of the importance of families and of friendships. Throughout their journey I loved it each time Meilin opened her hand painted scroll to read a new story to her young son. Each time Meilin opened the scroll a little further they discovered new things. My favourite story was of the monk helping the old lady cross the river. The lesson it’s teaching really resonated with me and won’t be forgotten.
‘You must have seen so much. Been so brave. I admire that.’
Henry’s not sure what to say. It’s not as if he chose to grow up in such turmoil. It’s just what life was like. They did what they needed to do in order to survive. That’s all.
‘Your mother must be amazing to have kept you safe through all that.’
Yes, Henry thinks, she is.
Peach Blossom Spring is a powerful and immersive read told through the eyes of three generations of family. It reminds us of the ties that bind families together, the barriers that can divide us and the importance of resilience to keep moving, keep learning and supporting one another.
Highly Recommended reading for fans of Historical Fiction. This would also make a great Book Club read as there are so many topics that could be discussed.
Where To Buy
Further book info
- Publication date: 17 March 2022
- Publisher: Wildfire
- Page count: 400
About The Author
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.
A note from the author
This is a family story. That is, it tells the story of a family. Not my family, but an imagined one. A family created from the stories and anecdotes I learned while researching Peach Blossom Spring. Here is one of the great gifts of fiction: from many threads of human experience, we can weave a tapestry of narrative.
The backbone of the novel follows the trajectory of my father’s life and many of his generation who lived through the Sino-Japanese and Chinese Civil wars. For a long time, I knew very little of this story. Only once did he tell us about his youth in China and Taiwan. That afternoon in 1998, I wrote down everything he said. Every date, every city, every scrap of memory he recalled. Since then, I have lived in six different houses and two different countries. Throughout all the moves and miles, I have always known exactly where those notes were. I knew they would be important someday; I just didn’t know when.
I have often wondered why he chose that moment to share his memories. Now when I think about it, I realise he was at a peaceful point: he had recently retired and moved to a larger city, he was enjoying being a new grandfather. Maybe, for the first time in a long time, instead of looking at the past with sorrow and the future with caution, he could consider his life with reflection and hope. He told his story when the time was right.
Peach Blossom Spring is my debut novel. I came to writing fiction a little later in life, after working,
marrying, and having children. Like so many arts, learning how to write takes time and practice. I also had to grow into this story. I needed to grow into an appreciation of just how difficult my father’s choices were. I needed to grow into my own understanding of the choices we make of when to tell our stories, and when to hold them close, waiting for the right moment, the right people.
And now, I’m so pleased that Peach Blossom Spring has found its way into your hands. I offer it with humility and the hope that within these pages you find a story that speaks to you. Perhaps you’re holding it because the time is right.
With gratitude, Melissa Fu
Where To Find Melissa online
Peach Blossom Spring Introduced by the author Melissa Fu
Blog Tour Organised by
Random Things Tours
Many thanks to Anne @randomttours for inviting me on the book blog tour for Peach Blossom Spring by Melissa Fu. Thanks also to the author and Wildfire Books for my copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.
Finally, I hope you’ve enjoyed my book review of Peach Blossom Spring by Melissa Fu. You can find more reading inspiration like this one, such as:
- Books By Destination – explore the world through books
- Travel books – from memoirs, to travel guides and anthologies
- Fiction – historical fiction, thrillers and more