Distinguished from her classmates by her spirited imagination, Henrietta S. Robertson must tolerate as best she can, life in a boarding school for the children of missionaries on Lushan mountain, Jiangxi Province. Allowing the parents to pursue their call to bring the Gospel to China, Etta and her classmates live a constrained life, isolated from their parents and caught between religions and cultures. It is 1941 and with the invasion of the Japanese they must now face life in an internment camp.
Hauntingly written, this is a poignant coming-of-age story told from the unique perspective of its captivating young narrator. [Larger font]
All agreed that the writing was beautifully poetic and descriptive. We couldn't understand how the missionary parents could be separated from their children for so long. Powerful, brilliant writing about how the children coped with their loneliness.
Beautifully written, with economy of words. Memorable.
Very few finished this book. We did not engage with the character or the subject matter and felt it was written by a 13 year old for 13 years olds. Those that did persevere felt it picked up in the final third but none enjoyed it, could find anything positive about it and would not recommend it. A disappointing book to end our year.
Although we found the earlier parts of the book a bit tedious, we thoroughly enjoyed this really poignant account of this small girl, once into the story. Well-written, descriptive and sad - sometimes very funny too.
Mixed reviews for this book. The "pros" enjoyed the format especially the mysticism and imagery demonstrated by the author. The "cons" weren't moved at all by the subject and felt it was just a "boarding school" in an unusual setting.
We enjoyed this book. Some found the beginning a bit slow. All of us were interested in the history of the period. The characters were well defined and the book was well-written. Quite a lot of discussion was about others experience of 'boarding' school for young children.
11/12 LOVED the book.
The group agreed that 'In a Land of Paper Gods' was slow going at first. However interest grew as the story proceeded. There were humorous, sad and poignant parts. All found it interesting historically. As usual, there was robust discussion.
Mixed reaction from the group. Interesting discussion about missionary work, and also about the treatment of children at the time.
This was a novel of 2 halves. The first was slow to engage one's attention; the second section was tumultuous, sad, occasionally violent and gripped one's attention. The author's use of descriptive language to paint word pictures was skilful; and the book notes were a helpful adjunct to the reading, and did focus one on a deeper reading of the narrative.
A mixed reaction to this book. Some found 'Etta' somewhat unconvincing, but it was an interesting narrative about the times, and human behaviour.
This is probably the book which generated the least discussion in our group. Once again, a couple of members didn't bother to read past the initial chapters and the others found it anywhere from mediocre to educational but not written in a way to grip any of us. We did all (those who read the book) admit we learnt things about missionary families back in the time, the Japanese invasion, and even the culture of the Chinese to a small degree. The three stars is the majority, some would have scored it less.