Sep 17, 2022

Sunday Salon: The Stand-In, Searching for Sylvie Lee, Letters from Singapore, and Cocoon

 


The Stand-In: A Novel by 

May 3, 2022, Sourcebooks Casablanca

Genre: rom com, family drama, contemporary, multicultural 
Setting: Toronto 

My comments: 

Gracie Reed wants her mother to live in more expensive senior care facility, but although she has several jobs, she can't afford the facility she has in mind for her mom. When famous Chinese actors Sam Yao and Wei Fangli visit Toronto to star in a play, and Gracie is discovered to be a doppelganger for Wei, they offer her $150,000 to act as a stand in for Wei for two months in her many public appearances. 

Gracie accepts the offer, somewhat reluctantly, but happy to leave a sexually harassing boss at her current job. How she learns to behave and act like Wei Fangli is central to this romantic drama, which involves the handsome Sam Yao. 

A humorous romance, the book focuses on the  personalities of Gracie, Sam, and Wei Fangli, their differences making this novel much more interesting. Themes of  duty versus career goals, family expectations, abandonment and mental health, are also central themes in the book.

I gave The Stand-In a solid five stars, for the plot complexities, character development, the romance, and the social topics it covers.

Also reading:


Searching for Sylvie Lee by JeanKwok 

Family drama, suspense, multicultural interest, immigrant fiction

My comments:

A novel about an immigrant family from China who are unable to support their family in the U.S. and forced by circumstances to give up their first daughter, Sylvie, to her grandmother and cousin who live in the Netherlands. 

Sylvie is reunited with her real family years later in NYC at age nine, but returns to the Netherlands some 20 years ahead when her grandmother dies. Sylvie's younger sister Amy then travels from the U.S. to Holland to find her sister, who has mysteriously disappeared on that trip.

Immigrant culture and conflict, Chinese culture and family norms, anti-Asian sentiment in the Netherlands, and other crucial elements of society combine to define Sylvie Lee's disappearance.

A moving picture of family dynamics, love and desire, which all reminded me of a Greek tragedy taking place  in the two cultures - Asian and European.



Letters to Singapore by Kelly Kaur
Published May 1, 2022; Stonehouse Original
Genre: epistolary novel, contemporary fiction, multicultural interest
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My comments: 

Simran avoids an arranged marriage in Singapore when she gets her parents' approval to first attend the University of Calgary, Canada for an undergraduate degree. While in Calgary, Simran's views and experience broaden, so much so that she is delighted to be offered a scholarship to get her Master's Degree after graduation. But her mother writes that it's time for Simran to come home, back to Singapore and her family's traditional way of life.

This is an easily read epistolary novel, with the story of Simran in Calgary revealed in back and forth letters to her friends and relatives in Singapore. I enjoyed learning about life in an Indian community in Singapore and the contrast of Simran's growing love for her life in Calgary.

The novel seems to be partly autobiographical as the author, Kelly Kaur, left her island home in Southeast Asia to study in Calgary. She brings an interesting perspective of an international student first vising and living in North America.

I gave this four enthusiastic stars.
Thanks to Wiley Saichek for a review copy of this book.

Publication: October 4, 2022; World Editions
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

China: the past as seen in the grandparents, the present as seen in the parents, and the future as seen in the children who don't understand.

I had the impression of young people wanting to understand their grandparents who went through the Cultural Revolution, and their parents, who are in the midst of a new capitalist-minded China, struggling to get ahead in life, leaving behind the traditional way of life of the old China.

Young people have to deal with grandparents they don't understand, parents who leave them behind to search for a future, or divorced parents who go separate ways and let the children be taken care of primarily by the grandparents. The stories are sometimes raw and everything sordid or good is shown to the reader.

I think this novel is so specific to time and place that the readers for which it was intended, the people in China, will get much more from it than readers in another culture, reading a translated version, and trying to understand the context and complete underlying message.

I can see why this author is popular in her home country.

View all my reviews


What are you reading this week? 

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated BookreviewerAlso,  It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday SalonStacking the ShelvesMailbox Monday

50 comments:

  1. The Stand-In sounds like such a fun book; I really want to read that one. :D

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  2. Letters to Singapore looks good. We lived there for 3 1/2 years and loved it. Have a great weekend!

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  3. I'm intrigued by The Stand In. It looks fun and light.

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  4. These all sound good, I love getting a look at other cultures. I love the cover of that second one as well.

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  5. I have been wanting to read Searching for Sylvie Lee. The Stand-In is new to me but you make it sound so good! I will have to add that one to my wish list. I hope you have a great week!

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  6. That is a very interesting selection of books about the multi-cultural globe of the moment. We had friends from the Singapore-Indian community -- the man married a woman his parents disapproved of. Drama! But it was real life not a novel.

    best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

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  7. Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet, Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God's great Judgment Seat. - Rudyard Kipling

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  8. These all look good -- thanks!

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  9. They all look like interesting books. I especially like the look of The Stand In.

    Have a great weekend!

    Emily @ Budget Tales Book Blog
    My post:
    https://budgettalesblog.wordpress.com/2022/09/18/sunday-salon-21/

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  10. The Stand In was fun to read - humorous too.

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  11. The Stand-In sounds like such a fun book. I'll have to check it out. :D

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  12. For me, Letters to Singapore is the one that catches my eye. I enjoy epistolary novels and it might be a great way to learn of another culture. Thanks for introducing me to it.
    Terrie @ Bookshelf Journeys
    https://www.bookshelfjourneys.com/post/sunday-post-16

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    Replies
    1. It was a good one, with lots of cultural contexts.

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  13. The Stand In sounds really good. They all sound good. Hope you have a great week!

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  14. Looks like you had some good reads last week. Hope this week is just as enjoyable.

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  15. And, happy reading. -vvb32 reads

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  16. These all look like interesting reads! Have a great reading week!

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  17. The Stand-In looks fun. Enjoy all your new books, these are all new to me.

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  18. You definitely have a theme happening, The Stand-In sounds good.

    Wishing you a great reading week

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  19. These Asian flavor books sound good. I liked Girl in Translation by Kwok, I should really try this one.
    Here is my post: https://wordsandpeace.com/2022/09/18/sunday-post-67-09-18-2022/

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    Replies
    1. Sylvie Lee surprised me with how in depth a novel it is.

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  20. What fabulous books this week. The Stand-In and Cocoon need to go on my wish list. Thanks for sharing and for visiting my blog today.

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    Replies
    1. They are very different but enjoyable books.

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  21. Cocoon sounds like an exceptional read, especially for those who may have experienced some of the events of the book.

    I like the sound of The Stand-In, too. It looks delightful.

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  22. I like the description of The Stand-In so I'll add to my Goodreads list. Have a good week!
    Mary @Bookfan

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  23. I am curious about The Stand In. Enjoy your week, and thanks for sharing. Here are my WEEKLY UPDATES

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  24. Nice post...enjoy your books.

    Hope you are having a good week.

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  25. All the books sound like an interesting read and all the more better to learn more about other cultures through our reading. Have a great week, Harvee!

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    1. Reading has been a great experience for this armchair traveler!

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  26. I have The Stand-In in my Audible TBR so your comments make we want to get to this sooner than later. The other titles look good too, especially Cocoon. Have a good week and Happy Reading more books!

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    1. I listened to a little of the audio of The Stand-In and I have to say I like the printed version much better!

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  27. These all sound like wonderful books - particularly The Stand-In. I hope that you enjoy them all. On a side note, I’m not sure why your site won’t allow me to sign in either by URL or Google.

    Jodie@https://thathappyreader.ca

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