Skip to main content

The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds (Malayan #1) by Selina Siak Chin Yoke: A Book Review

The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds (Malayan #1)
Author: Selina Siak Chin Yoke
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: AmazonCrossing
Release Date: 2016
Pages: 476
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Synopsis: Facing challenges in an increasingly colonial world, Chye Hoon, a rebellious young girl, must learn to embrace her mixed Malayan-Chinese identity as a Nyonya—and her destiny as a cook, rather than following her first dream of attending school like her brother.

     Amidst the smells of chillies and garlic frying, Chye Hoon begins to appreciate the richness of her traditions, eventually marrying Wong Peng Choon, a Chinese man. Together, they have ten children. At last, she can pass on the stories she has heard—magical tales of men from the sea—and her warrior’s courage, along with her wonderful kueh (cakes).

     But the cultural shift towards the West has begun. Chye Hoon finds herself afraid of losing the heritage she so prizes as her children move more and more into the modernising Western world.

     My Review: The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds tells the story of Chye Hoon, a woman of mixed Chinese and Malayan heritage. Chye Hoon is a young girl in Malaya who learns about her distinct heritage. She also yearns to go to school to learn how to read and write like her brother, Chong Jin. Because she was a girl, she learned how to cook instead.  When she grew older, she had a hard time finding a husband. She was unsuitable because she had shown her temper in public. 

     When a husband was found for her, he was a Chinese man who already had a wife and son in China. He had left his family there and planned to make a new one with Chye Hoon in Malaya. Their marriage was peaceful and they had ten children. When business brings Chye Hoon’s husband back to China, she dreads him leaving, for she fears she would never see him again. Her husband dies in China leaving Chye Hoon alone with ten children. Chye Hoon decides to run a business as a cook. However, her hardships are just beginning. Chye Hoon struggles to maintain her identity and her tradition as her country becomes more modernized.

     I really love Chye Hoon. She was a woman whom I could relate with. She is strong, determined, and wise. She is also very feisty and energetic. She does have a temper, which is often looked down upon. However, her best quality is that she never let her trials and tragedies get to her. Thus, her endurance is her strength. I also like how she excelled despite her weaknesses. Therefore, readers will greatly admire Chye Hoon and will want to know what happens to her.

    Overall, this book is about family, friendship, love, identity, and tradition versus modernity. The characters seemed very realistic and complex. After reading, I felt as I if I had known them. The writing is lyrical and evocative. The story itself was hard to put down and was so enthralling that readers will want to turn the pages to know the ending. I also loved the setting of Malaya, and I learned a lot about the Chinese and Malaysian culture. The only thing that I did not like about it was there were a few drawn-out scenes. Still, this is a book that you do not want to miss! I can’t wait to read the sequel, When The Future Comes Too Soon, which focuses on Chye Hoon’s daughter-in-law, Mei. Thus, I recommend this not only to those interested in Malaysia, but also to readers of Lilli De Jong, Threads of Silk, and The Ohana

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Comments

  1. Awww that is such an amazing review! I’m all smiles reading it. Thank you so much and I’m so happy you all loved it!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I liked this review for an obviously interesting and unique book. I'll start reading as soon as I finish the difficult work on literary research paper

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

My Favorite Books of 2021

Looking back at the year 2021, it has been a very hard year especially with the pandemic. Reading a good book is what helps me get through the most difficult times. While I did not read as much this year as I usually do, I still found some gems that a worth a re-read. These books drew me into the past and for a while whisked me away from the realities of 2021. This is the list of my favorite books of the year. Boudica has always been one of my favorite historical figures of the year. I even wrote a history article which you can find here . I can say without a doubt that Melanie Karsak did justice to Boudica's early life. It was  a gripping historical read with raw emotions! I look forward to the next books in the series to see how Queen Boudica is portrayed! Queen Esther's story has always been one of my favorite book in the Bible . When my favorite Christian author writes one of my favorite stories, it becomes a sweet treat! I loved everything about The Star of Persia ! The m

The Seven Sisters (The Seven Sisters #1) by Lucinda Riley: A Book Review

The Seven Sisters (The Seven Sisters #1) Author: Lucinda Riley Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance Publisher: Atria Release Date: 2015 Pages: 463 Source: My State Public Library Synopsis: Maia D’Apliese and her five sisters gather together at their childhood home, “Atlantis”—a fabulous, secluded castle situated on the shores of Lake Geneva—having been told that their beloved father, who adopted them all as babies, has died. Each of them is handed a tantalizing clue to her true heritage—a clue which takes Maia across the world to a crumbling mansion in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Once there, she begins to put together the pieces of her story and its beginnings. Eighty years earlier in Rio’s Belle Epoque of the 1920s, Izabela Bonifacio’s father has aspirations for his daughter to marry into the aristocracy. Meanwhile, architect Heitor da Silva Costa is devising plans for an enormous statue, to be called Christ the Redeemer, and will soon travel to Paris to find the right sculptor to

Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts: A Book Review

Finding Dorothy Author: Elizabeth Letts Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Ballantine Books Release Date: February 12, 2019 Pages: 352 Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review. Synopsis: Hollywood, 1938: As soon as she learns that M-G-M is adapting her late husband’s masterpiece for the screen, seventy-seven-year-old Maud Gage Baum sets about trying to finagle her way onto the set. Nineteen years after Frank’s passing, Maud is the only person who can help the producers stay true to the spirit of the book—because she’s the only one left who knows its secrets.     But the moment she hears Judy Garland rehearsing the first notes of “Over the Rainbow,” Maud recognizes the yearning that defined her own life story, from her youth as a suffragette’s daughter to her coming of age as one of the first women in the Ivy League, from her blossoming romance with Frank to the hardscrabble prairie years that inspired The Wonderful Wizard of Oz . Judy reminds Maud of a