Women know the pressures of home family and work. But what if you add domestic abuse and live in post-Mao China, where a woman's position is ambiguous? Tianyi's story explores these themes. The sudden appearance of new characters and long flashbacks confused me but I went with the flow, sympathising with her frustrations, sexual and professional and celebrating her courage and eventual freedom. A glimpse into a life so much harder than mine.
She was utterly conflicted: intellectually open-minded, in her behaviour very conservative. In those days she believed that the man should always make the first move. If she had initiated it, she would not have felt happy even if the man actually responded. Lian never wanted intimacy. They had changed, it seemed, from being lovers to being friends, and from friends to comades.