Published by Simon Pulse on August 1st 2004
OUNG XING XING IS BOUND.
Bound to her father's second wife and daughter after Xing Xing's father has passed away. Bound to a life of servitude as a young girl in ancient China, where the life of a woman is valued less than that of livestock. Bound to be alone and unmarried, with no parents to arrange for a suitable husband. Dubbed "Lazy One" by her stepmother, Xing Xing spends her days taking care of her half sister, Wei Ping, who cannot walk because of her foot bindings, the painful but compulsory tradition for girls who are fit to be married. Even so, Xing Xing is content, for now, to practice her gift for poetry and calligraphy, to tend to the mysterious but beautiful carp in her garden, and to dream of a life unbound by the laws of family and society.
But all of this is about to change as the time for the village's annual festival draws near, and Stepmother, who has spent nearly all of the family's money, grows desperate to find a husband for Wei Ping. Xing Xing soon realizes that this greed and desperation may threaten not only her memories of the past, but also her dreams for the future.
In this searing story, Donna Jo Napoli, acclaimed author of Beast and Breath, delves into the roots of the Cinderella myth and unearths a tale as powerful as it is familiar.
Short & Sweet: Xing Xing is better known as "Lazy One", which is the name her stepmother calls her. Her stepsister is going through the process of foot binding so that she can be married off. Not all is well, but it seems to start going better when Xing first sees a beautiful fish nearby her home. She finds herself constantly drawn to the water and is convinced the fish is the spirit of her mother. Unfortunately her stepmother finds out about the fish as well and something unthinkable happens. I've read several versions of this Chinese Cinderella, but I loved the setting and differences of this one to include foot binding, a tradition that really quite scares me.
Final Verdict: A stunning story that takes you back in history while still having it's own kind of fairy tale magic.
Which do you prefer – historical fairy tales or modern day fairy tales?