HarperCollins|June 14, 2001|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-06-093442-2
In poised and elegant prose, Kathryn Harrison weaves a stunning story of women, travel, and flight; of love, revenge, and fear; of the search for home and the need to escape it. Set in alluring Shanghai at the turn of the century, The Binding Chair intertwines the destinies of a Chinese woman determined to forget her past and a Western girl focused on the promises of the future.
After having read Snowflower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See, I was familiar with the age old torture of foot binding performed on young girls in early China. A year long process that I couldn’t imagine having had to endure. Poor May had to endure foot binding in this story as done by her grandmother as her own mother just didn’t have the heart to do it herself. Gramma however, was relentless and forced May to make the long walk from the binding chair to her mother’s room where she laid on the bed wrapped in her mother’s arms sobbing. May’s mother cried as hard as she did.
Overall, the story itself wasn’t as good as I thought it was going to be which annoyed me as I’d waited eight months for this book to come out of “temporarily out of stock!” I found the characters boring and flat, there was no warmth or “real” personality to the characters. Developing the personalities a lot more would have taken this story much further. I found myself becoming more and more bored and less enamoured with the story as I read deeper into the book.
The narrative went back and forth in time and place as it stuttered to what I’d call a ‘dying end.’ NOT a book I would recommend to family and friends.