Lan Samantha Chang
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Buy *Inheritance* online

Lan Samantha Chang
W.W. Norton
320 pages
August 2005
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Click here to read reviewer Luan Gaines' take on Inheritance.

Inheritance is an epic, sweeping tale set in China that spans seven decades, about familial devotion, betrayal and passion, told from the perspective of Hong, the daughter of Junan. In 1931, Junan and her younger sister, Yinan, are abandoned by their mother when she commits suicide by drowning herself in a lake because she has not borne her husband a son (which was of a paramount importance in China at the time). Junan and Yinan are crushed by the loss of their mother, and they vow never to leave each other.

While Junan and Yinan are inseparable sisters, they are different. Junan is a tall, graceful beauty while Yinan is smaller, plain and a bit eccentric. Despite their differing looks and personalities, the sisters remain close through their girlhood - until their pact is broken when Junan’s father hastily agrees to an arranged marriage for Junan. Junan marries Li Ang, a young soldier who quickly has to rush off to war when the Japanese invade China. As a result, Junan and Li Ang are separated from each other for long periods of time.

The wartime separation from Li Ang is more painful for Junan than she imagined because she has fallen in love with her soldier husband, something that she considers a mistake because she sees her love for him as a personal weakness. While she waits for him at home, Junan cannot help but wonder how he is doing and what he is up to when he is not performing his duties as a soldier. Since Junan is unable to follow Li Ang to the wartime capital, eventually she can no longer bear his absence. Knowing that he cannot return home, he sends Yinan after him, and the events that unfold thereafter change the lives of Junan, Yinan, and Li Ang permanently.

Set against the backdrop of China’s political chaos and social upheaval, Hong, the elder daughter of Junan, narrates the story of the lives of her mother, her father and her aunt, along with Hong’s own life which spans into America decades later. Inheritance is a thought-provoking, well-written novel that explores issues of trust, betrayal, and family ties. I enjoyed reading about China’s culture during such a tumultuous period, and fans of historical fiction should not miss Inheritance.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Shannon I. Bigham, 2005

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