I was expecting a novel about the harsh conditions faced by migrant workers in contemporary China to be hard going, but instead, I felt like Xinran was taking me by the hand. The story of three country sisters, 'Chopsticks', and their life in the big city is told in a clear and humorous style with some real moments of wry amusement. As each sister's individual search for work unfolds, so does the character of each girl.
Five's new employers were great talkers. They didn't stop chatting from the moment they left the job centre to the moment they got off the bus that had taken them into the heart of Nanjing. This put Five at ease. She realised that city women gossiped as much as country women. However, it didn't make her any the wiser about her new job because she couldn't understand a word they were saying.