The Middle Kingdom

Andrea Barrett, Author Pocket Books $18.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-671-72960-8
The Beijing of 1986 serves as the backdrop for this affecting novel about an American woman's self-discovery. At 30, Grace has succumbed to a type of emotional paralysis. Buried in fat, unwilling to face the past and incapable of imagining her own future, she chalks up a string of failures: abandoned schools and careers, one divorce and a precarious marriage to Walter, a scientist. Accompanying Walter to a conference in Beijing, Grace is jolted out of her complacency as she is befriended by a Chinese woman, a doctor. A severe bout of pneumonia lands her in the hospital, attended by her new friend, and in her feverish state she relives the sorry episodes that have temporarily defeated her. Her illness, paradoxically, cures her, and she finds the courage to embrace an entirely new life. Barrett ( Lucid Stars ) here recreates not China itself but, more reasonably, her heroine's fascination with it, and she manages to infuse her characters, Grace especially, with a psychic energy and charm that belie their saddened states. Literary Guild alternate. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1991
Release date: 03/01/1991
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-671-72961-5
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-00-710288-4
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