Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: 14 April 2015
Format: eBook, 320 pgs
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
From China to Hawaii, author Cecily Wong brings us an unforgettable tale of a Chinese family - the Leong’s, spanning from three generations set in the twentieth-century.
The story opens with a young driver, Peter Choi, chauffeuring Amy Leong and her daughter, Theresa. Amy's husband, Bohai, is deceased and she's the surviving member of the family. As Peter chauffeurs the two women where his funeral is held, Theresa gives us more than a glimpse of her thoughts about her father as well as the history surrounding their family.
Maku, as she fondly called her father (that's 'father' in Hawaiian: makuakane), was born not by his father's wife but a concubine, a girl who's barely sixteen. As in Chinese traditions and beliefs, Theresa's grandfather (or as in most Chinese families) believes that it is important to bear a son to carry on the family's name (in fact that belief still continues today, especially with the older generation). Theresa's grandmother couldn't bear any children, let alone sons so it seems appropriate to take in a concubine. As Theresa reminiscences based on what her mother had told her, it seems there's more to the family history. Memories and tales of her grandparents' days; and how the war had separated her grandfather and his brother, Shen.
What ties this family story to fables is an ancient tale of Yue Xia Lao (月下老), a lunar god who's known to be responsible for the fate and marriages between couples and how an invisible red string of fate binds a person to his or her partner. Likewise, how one would be punished for making mistakes in love and that a knotted string will follow them through generations.
Narrated in different voices among the female Leongs members, Diamond Head is a poignant story about family, tragic love, loss and heroic acts of patriotism mingled with Chinese cultures, traditions and fables. Each narrator has an instinctive voice and it is hard not to be swept away by their stories or not have your emotions evoked under the skilful handwriting of the author. Through their voices, we have a further understanding of their thoughts and actions, their differences under different generations. Still, they share the same vulnerability being a woman, in terms of love, emotions and the circumstances they are thrown into. At most times, the choices they made are beyond their control. Is this what fate is when we feel things are out of our control? Perhaps.
Diamond Head is a story not to be missed, if you enjoy reading about family saga and Chinese culture.