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Paper Lanterns de Christine Coleman
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Paper Lanterns (edició 2010)

de Christine Coleman

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642,299,776 (4.13)1
This novel moves between Hong Kong, Norfolk and the Midlands and shows how the consequences of an act of infidelity have shaped the lives of three generations of women. A vivid and absorbing tale of family secrets and illicit love, observed with the keen eye of a poet.
Títol:Paper Lanterns
Autors:Christine Coleman
Informació:Novel Press (2010), Paperback, 296 pages
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca

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Paper Lanterns de Christine Coleman

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I havent read Christine's previous novel, but have read several of the books on Christine's previous publisher's "label" (Transita) and enjoy the directions of ordinary people (who arent necessarily special in the looks, money or age department), and most of whom are flawed in someway.

Ann, despite being middle aged - still is the child of a glamorous, attractive woman, and has grown up with the baggage of never feeling pretty, talented or loved enough. She visits her mother in Hong Kong after hearing that the man Vivianne has deserted Ann for has, in turn, deserted Vivianne.[return][return]A week's stay in a foreign and exotic location makes her reassess her relationship not only with her mother, but herself and her grandmother.

I did enjoy the descriptions of the island and it reminded me of many fiction books that I have read set in China and Japan

It did take me a while to get some of the relationships sorted out - It was ages before I relised that Felicity was Ann's step-sister rather than new step-mother, but dot know if that was me being particularly stupid.
  nordie | Apr 18, 2022 |
This U.K. author writes books with protagonists who are quite ordinary people: they don’t look like movie stars and aren’t exceptionally talented or notable or confident or popular. I love reading about believable people for a change!

Ann is in her early fifties, and has always been considered “plain” at best: “Mr. Potato Head in Drag” at worst. She resents her mother, Vivienne, who is not only very attractive, but has made it clear she thinks Ann is not. Nor have they bonded. When Vivienne walks out on the family the week before Ann’s sixteenth birthday to go live with a younger man, Stuart, Ann never wants to speak to her again, and rarely does. Her primary female bond is with her beloved grandmother Belle, known to all as Grannibelle.

Because of her lack of close parenting and even rejection by her mother, Ann never really grows up; very close to the surface she is still a hurt and resentful little girl who needs to be loved. Moreover, she has married a man who is more staid than sensitive, more dutiful than sensuous, and Ann’s sense of inadequacy never goes away.

All this changes when Ann goes to China. Ann’s brother Colin has called, and asked that Ann go see their mother who now lives on Lamma Island off of Hong Kong. Vivienne’s paramour of thirty-seven years, Stuart, has left her for a younger woman, and Colin is worried about her. Ann, reluctant to disappoint Colin, agrees to go.

Hong Kong brings out a new Ann from the very start. On the flight out, Ann meets a charming man, George, with whom she collides while uncharacteristically scooting on a luggage trolley. And on Lamma Island, she who has never had many friends is suddenly embraced by a number of people of all ages who seem to like her for herself: from Dawn, a young girl in her twenties, to Poppy, an eccentric woman in her eighties.

Meanwhile, throughout the week, Ann and her mother struggle to overcome their strained relationship, and in the course of doing so, Ann learns that her family and her past are not what she thought they were at all. And as repressed memories are dredged up, Ann finds that even she herself is not who she thought she was. The short visit to Hong Kong turns her world upside down, and suggests all sorts of possibilities to her she never knew existed.

Evaluation: This is a quiet story. There are no serial killings, no erotic passages, no political upheavals. It is a study of ordinary flawed people, with a blend of assets and detractions, and with the kinds of mixed-emotion relationships any one of us could have. As with Coleman’s delightful first book, The Dangerous Sports Euthanasia Society, the author clearly has fun limning the supporting cast, no matter how minor a role each may play. They all seem true, and we’ve all run into at least a few of them at sometime in our lives.

In painting, my school of choice is impressionism. But in writing, I like realism, and Coleman is truly an artist extraordinaire in that school. I liked Euthanasia Society better, but this study of “mistaken identity” is worth reading also if you like art that shows you true reflections of others, and perhaps yourself. ( )
  nbmars | Mar 19, 2010 |
Received from the author.

In this novel we are taken back and forth from 1930's Hong Kong, to 1970's Sutton Coldfield, to Hong Kong in 2008 as the various strands of one family and their secrets become untangled.

Ann is a middle aged woman, married to a dull man, whose children are now grown up. She is the daughter of a very beautiful woman, who once in the 1970's betrayed Ann, and their family. Ann has always lived in the shadow of Vivienne her mother, and harboured a deep resentment for what happened in the summer of 1971. In the years since then, Vivienne, first living in Brighton, then in Hong Kong, and Ann, who remained in Sutton Coldfield see each other very infrequently, and the resentment remains, and the distance between them widens. Now in March 2008, Ann suddenly decides to visit her now seventy seven year old mother in Hong Kong - actually on the less well known Lamma Island. During the visit, Ann finds out a lot about both herself and her mother. She faces the truth of what happened in the 1970's and through the letters and journals of her adored grandmother Belle, she discovers family she never knew she had.

I feel very privileged to have been sent this novel to read, and when it is finally published early next year, I will be buying several copies, one for myself of course, and a couple more as gifts. This novel deserves to do well! As with Christine Coleman's first novel "The Dangerous Sports Euthanasia Society," the characterisation in this novel is wonderful. I loved the characters of Ann and Vivienne, their voices are clear and authentic, as are the more minor characters of Poppy, George and Dawn. Ann's pain, and her feelings of inadequacy are beautifully portrayed, Ann's 16 year old voice, that of so many unremarkable, unhappy girls of that age. As the narrative moves between the 1930's, the 1970's and 2008, the reader becomes as enmeshed in the drama of this family as the characters themselves. Vivienne and Belle, have had similar experiences in their lives and yet they dealt with them differently, but the real reason for this is lost on Ann until towards the end of her stay in Hong Kong.
I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and found myself becoming more and more involved with these characters the further I read. I know many people will read and enjoy this novel in the future, and I look forward to it's release, and Christine's success. ( )
  Heaven-Ali | Feb 26, 2010 |
From the author - not yet published

I loved Christine's previous novel, "The Dangerous Sports Euthanasia Society" and was eager for more by this quirky and original author. So, when a discussion about my new copy-editing and proof-reading business led to a new opportunity, I leapt at the chance to work on "Paper Lanterns".

I feel that Christine is a great chronicler of the "ordinary" person, a person often overlooked or relegated to the cast of supporting characters in the modern novel. I praised "The Dangerous Sports Euthanasia Society" for its lovely truck drivers and housewives, and "Paper Lanterns" opens with us meeting Ann, so ordinary that she doesn't even have an "e" on the end of her name, middle-aged, plain and self-doubting. Ann has always been in the shadow of someone else, and it's with a sinking heart and a sense of duty that she prepares to fly out to Hong Kong to console her mother over the loss of her partner.

Vivienne has always been the shining star, and Ann has suffered throughout her life by the comparison with this beautiful mother. Her grandmother, Grannibelle, absent through death but present through Ann's memories, was beautiful too, but redeemed by her warmth, love for and celebration of Ann. Vivienne, on the other hand... well, there's rivalry, bitchiness, betrayal...

Ann starts to feel more free as she starts her long journey to Hong Kong, until she has a rather embarassing accident involving a businessman and a china cow. Surely she won't ever have to see him again... But once in Hong Kong, beautifully evoked through lovely descriptions which really bring to us the sights, sounds and smells of the lesser known Lamma Island, she begins to find she is appreciated for herself by the disparate community of which her mother has become part.

As usual with Christine's works, the secondary characters are beautifully drawn, whether a young traveller, open and welcoming, or the delightfully dotty octogenerian, Poppy. And we are drawn into an older world, still on Lamma, when Ann is given a parcel of documents belonging to Grannibelle's earlier life.

Ann, and we, end up reassessing our impressions of several of the main characters, including Ann herself. We watch her blossom in self-confidence as she finds time to examine her own life as well as those of the other strong women in her family, and as she finds new family, and new ways to relate to family.

The double layered timescale gives a rich depth to the story, as Ann finds herself revisiting places her grandmother knew well, and visiting some of those strong emotions too. We find out the family revelations as Ann does, and find ourselves rooting for her as well as falling in love with a beautiful island and a happy, free way of life.

A good read, a satisfying range of characters, an engrossing plot and a new place to learn about - highly recommended.

Christine's web page is here. ( )
1 vota LyzzyBee | Nov 11, 2009 |
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This novel moves between Hong Kong, Norfolk and the Midlands and shows how the consequences of an act of infidelity have shaped the lives of three generations of women. A vivid and absorbing tale of family secrets and illicit love, observed with the keen eye of a poet.

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