Daily Review: The Secret Language of Women by Nina Romano
December 26, 2017
The lovers’ lives are endangered simply because of who they are, and their relationship only places them in more jeopardy.
Set in China in the late 1800’s, The Secret Language of Women tells the story of star-crossed lovers, Zhou Bin Lian, a Eurasian healer, and Giacomo Scimenti, an Italian sailor, driven apart by the Boxer Rebellion.
When Lian is seventeen years old, she accompanies her Swiss father, Dr. Gianluca Brasolin, fluent in Italian, to tend the Italian ambassador, at the Summer Palace of Empress Dowager, where she meets and falls in love with Giacomo.
Through voyage and adventure, their love intensifies but soon is severed by Lian’s dutiful promise as the wife to another. Forbidden from pursuing her chosen profession as a healer, and despised because she does not have bound feet, she is forced to work in a cloisonné factory while her in-laws raise her daughter, Ya Chen. It is in Nushu, the women’s secret writing, that she chronicles her life and her hopes for the future.
Rebelling against the life forced upon her, she empowers herself to act out against the injustice and becomes the master of her own destiny. But her quest for freedom comes at a costly price: The life of someone close to her, lost in a raging typhoon, a grueling journey to the Yun-kang Caves, and a desperate search for beauty and love in the midst of brutality.
By Charlie Ralf
Such an unusual and exotic story. Lian, a half Italian-half Chinese woman falls in love with Giacomo, an Italian sailor whose ship is patrolling the waters around China during the violent Boxer rebellion of the late 1890s when Chinese nationalists tried to drive all foreigners from their country.
In such a difficult situation, the lovers’ lives are endangered simply because of who they are, and their relationship only places them in more jeopardy. I don’t want to say anything more about the plot for fear of giving too much away.
But what I loved most about the novel was the way rich aspects of both Sicilian and Chinese culture are interwoven into the story and the way these two very different people realized they are kindred spirits.
By P.J. Lalacona
WHAT A WONDERFUL SURPRISE!
I was not looking forward to reading yet another Asian-based novel for my book group. Reluctantly I picked it up, dove right in, and could NOT put it down! It takes place in the very late 1800’s, during the Boxer Rebellion in China. The story is told from two perspectives.
LIAN introduces the reader to her life in China as medical assistant to her distinguished father. She aspires to one day be a medical doctor herself.
At a young age, Lian is schooled in the Secret Language of Woman by her mother and grandmother. She keeps a journal in this art, expressing her feelings, wishes, disappointments, desires.
GIACOMO, pronounced Jackamo, lives an idyllic life on the farm of his wealthy family on the Isle of Sicily. A single act of vengeance and loyalty at an early age propels Giacomo to join the Italian Navy, and eventually, he is sent to China at the start of the Boxer Rebellion. Giacomo’s perspective is told in third person narrative throughout.
Nino Roman has such a lovely way with words. At once, she is educating the readers about life and the culture in China at that time, the history, regal lifestyle of the ruling Dynasty, the beautiful countryside, the squalor in the cities. While at the same time, unraveling a yarn about impossible love at a time of cultural clashes and ravaging upheaval within a beautiful country.
I was so taken with Ms. Romano’s style of writing, that I will surely continue reading this trilogy; and also her poetry, where I can find it.
Please click HERE to find The Secret Language of Women on Amazon.