“The Diary of Katy Yehonala” by Robert Barclay is one of our latest Beauty and Lace book club reads. Barclay writes with passion and commitment about historical events in China, and it is this that will keep most readers interested.
May-ling “Katy” Yehonala is a Manchurian, born in China in 1966. In the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution, her well-off family first loses everything, and then is given a chance to recover and rebuild. Katy matures as China is starting to look more to the outside world, and has the opportunity to travel to England to study. This period shapes her life.
Although the blurb describes this as a saga about three generations, Katy’s mother received very little attention, and her daughter even less. Both were really depicted only in passing, and in relationship to Katy. This was Katy’s story. Indeed, it’s told in the first person by Katy.
At times this felt like a history text rather than a story about a real person; fascinating details abounded, but I didn’t feel I was reading about things happening to someone. Historical events in China were related in the tone of a history book, rather than the way someone would talk about their own life. I found it interesting, but mostly because I’ve some interest in Chinese history.
However, this was one of the strengths of the novel: the painstaking historical background is well-drawn, and many details help illuminate the events of the period. Barclay has clearly taken a lot of effort to make sure he gets these things right.
Despite its flaws, I found the novel interesting, and the dance through recent Chinese history worthwhile. I think how much you enjoy this novel will depend very much on the expectations you bring to it.
Copy courtesy of Shawline Publishing Group (2021)
A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading The Diary of Katy Yehonala by Robert Barclay. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.
I’ve loved books for as long as I can remember, and I love sharing that joy.
I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I can remember, across all genres. There’s not much I won’t at least try. I’ve been an enthusiastic book reviewer for years. I particularly enjoy discovering writers new to me, and sharing good writing with others.
My career has included time spent writing and editing technical documents, but it’s fiction that really moves me. I’ve reviewed for a number of different outlets over the years, and have been a judge in literary competitions.
I’m now raising little bookworms of my own, which brings a whole new kind of joy to sharing books.
More of my reviews can be found on my review blog www.otherdreamsotherlives.home.blog .