In 1880 Topaz Woo dies in childbirth in Fresno, California. She will be allowed to watch over and “raise” her child for ten years in exchange for making sure she lives by the Ten Commandments, but she has no idea what that means, or that everything she knows about love, revenge, and honor will be changed forever.
I absolutely loved this book. The characters were easy to identify with and as I got to know them I felt like they were part of my own family. They were all believable and felt true to life, and as the book went on they changed and grew in different ways. Topaz was flawed, but nothing more than you might expect of a seventeen year old robbed of raising her child, leaving her family to try and do it for her. Her love for her daughter and wishes to take care of her were heartbreaking at times, and I found myself loving her more and more through the whole book.
To he honest, I was expecting something a little different when the blurb referenced the Ten Commandments – maybe something a bit more religious – but I really liked the way the author worked them in. Topaz, who had no experience with religion, was allowed to set the meaning and boundaries of the rules, and the twists and unexpected outcomes of some of them reminded me of The Monkey’s Paw. It did leave me wondering whether or not those rules were still in effect at the end of the book, something that was never really discussed.
I am a big fan of historical novels and I was completely immersed in the culture and setting, making me a little sad when I finished. My “speciality” is Texas in the late 1880s so I was drawn to this one immediately and ended up learning quite a bit about Fresno.
This is a relatively short book, so I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to try out Ms. Chow’s work. It’s a joy and one I plan to read again for sure. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go hunt down her other books!
Available on Amazon.com and at Barnes and Noble.