This is a cherishable paperback book that would make a fine gift for a friend or relations, whether or not they have any special interest in Chinese language or culture. The fact is that everyone loves "famous sayings," and this collection is noteworthy for two reasons: one, it is divided into conceptual categories that allow the reader to find a quote a propos to a particular situation, and two, there is a brief but helpful explanation of Chinese calligraphy, letting us understand better how one "letter" in Chinese can express a multitude of concepts. Each chapter is accompanied by the calligraphic letter related to its concept.
The proverbs range from mystical or merely mysterious to allegorical to frank and at times amusing and admonishing, much as our own folk sayings do. Under the category of "ability" we have the following, for example:
The wind and the waves seem always to favor the best sailors.
These three taken together create a picture of a well-trained sailor who will be in control of circumstances even in adversity because he has prepared himself with the requisite abilities.
Anyone can sail a ship when the sea is calm.
Control the winds by trimming your sails.
Honor is a key element in Chinese culture. In this category we have these offerings:
Virtue travels uphill; vice travels downhill.
Thus we see that honor is not something that is innate; it has to be acquired and maintained by a lifetime of struggle.
A noble ancestry cannot guarantee a noble character.
A clear conscience is the greatest armor.
About that most human of subjects, love, we learn that
Love does not observe the passing of time.
The authors of this collection are a writer/mother, Theodora Lau, her husband/illustrator Kenneth and their daughter Laura, who like her mother also writes about Chinese culture and horoscopes. Together they blend their talents to create a
small but attractive reference that entertains and educates.
Love for a person must extend to the crows on his roof.
Everyone can hear your song, but only those who love you will hear your sigh.