Aimee Liu was an associate producer of NBC's Today show before becoming a full-time writer. She has co-authored numerous non-fiction books and articles on medical and psychological topics. Her first novel, FACE, garnered widespread critical acclaim. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two sons.
Warner Books, which has been highly successful with such bittersweet romances as Robert James Waller's The Bridges of Madison County and Nicholas Sparks's The Notebook, offers another winner in the category. Like Sparks, Liu (Faces, LJ 8/94) based her novel on the lives of her grandparents. The book has epic ambitions, capturing the sweep of the historical era between 1900 and 1941 by using descriptive detail and incident quite effectively. Hope Newfield, the central character, is a California teacher tutoring Asian students in English. One of her students is Liang Po-yu, a scholar-revolutionary and friend of Sun Yat-sen, who wants to bring democracy to China. The novel is the history of their marriage, conceived in love but torn by bigotry and racism on the part of both Oriental and Occidental. The prose has a haunting, lyrical quality and an aura of authenticity. Recommended for all popular fiction collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/97.]‘Jacqueline Seewald, Red Bank Regional H.S., Little Silver, N.J.
This hefty, sometimes moving but melodramatic epic recounts the woes of a Chinese-American mixed marriage during the early 1900s. Hope, a young teacher, and Liang, one of her Chinese students (renamed Paul), meet in San Francisco in 1906. After Liang rescues Hope from the wreckage of the 1906 earthquake, the two young people defy their parents and marry. As a mixed couple, Paul and Hope suffer bigotry‘first in America, and later when they go to China, but this problem pales in comparison to the trials Hope faces within her marriage. Obsessed with bringing democracy into China, Paul is deeply embroiled in the country's volatile politics, from the overthrow of the Manchus to the war with Japan. Although the couple lives in luxury, with an entourage of servants, Hope must frequently uproot her young family as they move around the country. The book's overwhelming refrain becomes her unheeded plea for Paul to give up his risky political work. The novel's colorful historical context often prompts Liu (Face; Solitaire) into purple prose, and the drama sometimes runs dangerously close to movie-of-the-week sensationalism. And while Liu records any slight against Hope, she is surprisingly quick to stereotype other characters, such as the two other brides with whom Hope travels, a hard-drinking slutty Irish woman and a beefy Scandinavian type. This myopia and Hope's whining throughout the relatively easier parts of her life make her a difficult character to sympathize with. Luckily, her attitude improves toward the book's end, and she bears up well under some truly frightening experiences. Literary Guild alternate; first serial to Good Housekeeping; foreign rights sold in Germany, Holland and the U.K.; simultaneous Time Warner audio. (June) FYI: Liu based Cloud Mountain on the lives of her American grandmother and Chinese grandfather.