REVIEW: The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo by Zen Cho x 2
For writer Jade Yeo, the Roaring Twenties are coming in with more of a purr. She’s perfectly happy making a living by churning out articles on what the well-dressed woman is wearing. But when she pillories one of London’s leading literary luminaries in a scathing review, she may have made the mistake of her career.
Sebastian Hardie is tall, dark and handsome–and more intrigued than annoyed. Jade is irresistibly drawn to the prospect of adventure he offers. But if she succumbs to temptation, she risks losing her hard-won freedom–and her best chance for love.
Dear Zen Cho,
Several years ago Sunita, another of our reviewers read this charming little novella and gave it a rave review. I bought it not long after but never got to reading it until now. Silly me.
In early 1920s London, young writer Geok Huay (Jade) Yeo spends her time writing literary criticisms, along with jaunty pieces about ladies’ hemlines, to pay her way. After finishing her education at an English college, she doesn’t want to go home to Chinese Malaya where her parents (loving but single minded) want her to get married. They even have the young man picked out. Jade (who is relieved that her name translates into something that the English don’t consider odd) demurs.
After attending a literary party hosted by an author about whose book she wrote a scathing review, Jade finds herself in Paris with an aunt on a shopping mission and pursued by said author. After a short dalliance, during which she satisfies her curiosity to know more about life, Jade finds herself in an interesting situation. What will she do now and with whom will she do it?
Though there is a romance here, and a very nice one it is, I enjoyed this book more for what it showed me about Jade and her friend Ravi, the editor of the literary review which published Jade’s critical review. Little bits and pieces are casually dropped into the story which tell volumes about them but which aren’t then tediously explained. At one point Jade silently fumes about how most people in England assume she was born in China and never bother to work out that she wasn’t and how they ought to know that. Ravi mentions that he only writes poetry in Tamil which tells which part of India he is from. Arranged marriages are spoken about but casually as would be done by people used to this. There is also a great deal of subtle and sly humor but it’s not all poked at any one group.
Though I enjoyed the romance, I wanted to have more “page time” with the hero and, as Sunita mentions, the end is rather abrupt with possibly difficult times ahead based on the family dynamics involved. I believe these two love each other but I’d loved to have seen this story be longer. Perhaps the shorter length lets it stay in a happy fairy tale land. B