As the Earth Turns Silver

Wong, Alison

  12 Reviews

From the late nineteenth century to the 1920s, from Kwantung, China to Wellington and Dunedin and the battlefields of the Western Front - a story of two families. Yung faces a new land that does not welcome the Chinese. Alone, Katherine struggles to raise her children and find her place in the world. In a climate of hostility towards the foreign newcomers, Katherine and Yung embark on a poignant and far-reaching love affair ... [Taken from book cover.] [Larger font]

This title is also offered as part of the Narrative Muse Book Club.

Comments from Groups

An enchanting read. A very special book. All members enjoyed the read and would recommend highly. Dunedin 006

Beautifully written. Good read. Interesting historical era. Auckland 122

Good first read for book club. A little depressing but great for discussion. Paraparumu 002

We agreed the writing was beautiful and could see that it had been written by a poet. Several of us had read it before and were very happy to reread it. Nelson 007

A superbly written novel - very evocative of early NZ and its narrow-mindedness. Nelson 003

The characters felt authentic, the author's research was thorough - what an amazing and accomplished 'first novel'. Dunedin 061

We all enjoyed this book;its history, cultural setting, location and poetic, gentle writing. Wellington 018

One of our favourites to date. Author did a good job of combining NZ history and views into an interesting and engaging novel. Gore 007

Such a glorious book - sparse, lyrical and poignant. Our group was unanimous in our enjoyment of this book, and we probably had our best ever discussion. Auckland 094

An interesting and easy read of a well-written book, which was enjoyed by everyone in the group. The NZ author has used language romantically, producing wonderfully evocative characters and scenes. The cultural contrasts between the Chinese and New Zealanders led to to excellent discussions, about both the late nineteenth century and the present. Christchurch 010

Our discussion was lively. The group thought the couple's relationship would never have been able to develop fully due to the prejudices of society, and therefore wasn't as interesting to read about as it might have been. We all thought we learnt a lot about how Chinese people were treated in early 20th century NZ, and about some of our country's more shameful past immigration policies. Auckland 322

A relatively simple story with not too many characters,short chapters and very well written. The sensitive handling of the love between a Chinese man and a NZ Wellington widow in the early 20th century was gently portrayed. Our group found the book a delight to read. Wellington 117

This novel promoted a most lively discussion about immigration and related topics. We loved the poetic economy of language and the rhythmic flow of sentences. Hamilton 024

What a fascinating look at early 1900's Wellington, and the relationship between the locals and the Chinese community. The racism was normal for the time, as was the lack of womens' rights. We had a great discussion and all enjoyed the book. Masterton 013

We were impressed by this book - beautifully written and dealing with the issues of the day with sensitivity and skill. The author successfully combined historic facts with the story of the fated relationship. It had contemorary relevance also. Dunedin 029

Everyone enjoyed this book although they all said it was slow reading. We had an interesting discussion about it. Christchurch 356



NELS 080
A heartbreaking page turner. The contrast between the familiar landmarks with the unfamiliar history made the book unforgettable.
We loved the language and the characters, as well as the way the author drew us in. It gave us a really good insight into the culture of both countries at the time ( early 20th century). Thoroughly enjoyable!
DARF 004
We found this book to be an interesting insight to a little discussed part of New Zealand's past. The ending was perhaps a bit over the top really, as suffering the same trauma technically twice seemed more than enough retribution for the character concerned, but its impact on those around was not ideal. Would recommend.
CHCH 542
Our members enjoyed the book overall. It was interesting seeing the relationship between "NZers" and Chinese and to have the narrative from the both sides of the equation. We felt that it was a good read especially as it was the author's first book. One of our members came from Wellington so enjoyed the Wellington location and some looked at further history around Chinese immigrants and other pieces written about that time period in New Zealand.
AUCK 360
We enjoyed the book and its insight into race relations in Wellington 100 years ago. It dealt with a number of race and gender issues. It was a good book but not a great book. The writing was not poetic or inspiring, At times rather amateurish. It was a good story which kept us turning pages but was rather bleak in the finish. Not memorable.
ASHH 001
This seems to have been one of our most universally enjoyed books so far this year. The meticulous detail of time, location and setting was appreciated, as was the subtle and poetic writing style. Revelations concerning Chinese culture in NZ writing are sparse, so great to have the window opened a bit wider. (The short chapters appreciated by some!)
Some really enjoyed the book. Others, however, struggled with the small chapters, and felt it prevented certain storylines from developing deeply enough.
An interesting and well-written 'history' of the period, which made you want to read more because we're not taught Chinese history. Enjoyed 'walking with them' around Wellington. Alison Wong is very good at describing places, and the language is lovely and easy to read.
AUCK 355
We all enjoyed this read but felt a little more in depth detail about how the Chinese men felt about leaving their wives and family would have added an extra dimension to this book...
WELL 178
We all enjoyed it, especially for the setting (time and place) and the poetic language. The characters were interesting but more depth would have made them more engaging.
8/10 of the group thoroughly enjoyed this book and the author's writing style. The topic led to some valuable discussion, and also reflections of our own experiences with Chinese folk in our area.
CHCH 385
We enjoyed reading about places we could relate to, and the history we didn't know about.