Book Review: The Rage of Plum Blossoms by Christine M. Whitehead

Image via Goodreads.
Image via Goodreads.

Phew, midterms are over and I finally finished the book I started reading two weeks ago. At least, I think it was that long. Now, my time will be divided up between reading and working on my National Novel Writing Month project, H E N S B A N E. If you’re interested in keeping up with it, and don’t mind reading a rough first draft, be sure to follow me and add the story to your list on Wattpad.

Shameless self-plug aside, the most recent book that I’ve completed is The Rage of Plum Blossoms by Christine M. Whitehead. This book was provided to me free of charge through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest, unbiased review, and I would like to thank the publisher and author for this opportunity.

Set in the Big Apple, The Rage of Plum Blossoms is told from the perspective of a middle-aged divorce lawyer named Aquinnah Chang. When her husband plummets to his death in an apparent suicide, Quinn takes it upon herself to gather a small posse of men and find out the truth. What she learn, to put it lightly and in a spoiler-free manner, is that her husband is not the man she believed him to be and thus we embark upon a journey through Chinatown and, though indirectly, Southeast Asea, that is rife with danger.

While it is clear to the reader that Whitehead has created elaborate backgrounds for her characters, I could not help but find them to be a bit detached from reality. Granted, these are clearly wealthy and privileged characters, and given that I’ve never been in such a position myself, the disconnect could be largely imagined on my part. Quinn’s a lawyer, Sam works for Tiffany & Co., Bernie’s a retired cop, and Ryan’s pursuing his Ph.D, and none of them seem to be in want for much of anything. In fact, all four of the main characters appear to be perfect in nearly every single way, which made it a bit more difficult for me to read through this book quickly. The side characters are hardly any better, with the only exception being Quinn’s mother-in-law, Joan, and Sam’s girlfriend, Rachel.

I found the plot itself to be fairly intriguing, and it is because of the book’s synopsis that I requested it. Without divulging into details, and excluding the perfection of its characters, The Rage of Plum Blossoms is filled with quite a few twists, but some of them are largely predictable. The biggest flaw, I think, is the fact that Quinn seems to imagine nearly every scenario before it happens and, despite being prepared, something goes wrong, and it is never really a surprise. In one instance, her saving grace is an unexplainable phenomena that makes no sense. Even coincidence can’t explain it.

The book encompasses nearly a year of Quinn’s life, I think. There’s moments where it’s hard to tell how much time has elapsed, but for the most part, it seems that at least eight months have gone by. Given the task that Quinn and her group have taken upon themselves, this period of time is fairly logical, however the way in which the book is written makes it seem like far less. I would have preferred clearer markers, perhaps even dates, to help alleviate that confusion.

The Rage of Plum Blossoms is certainly interesting to a degree, and the way in which Whitehead detailed the political intrigue was excellent. I think, with a clearer timeline of events and the addition of some extreme flaws to the main quartet of characters, it could easily make it to the top of my list of reads.

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