So I picked this novella up for the Read Harder challenge, which was a book of romance by an author of colour (it also helpfully doubles as a self published book). Romance is really not my bag, so it was dreading this category a little bit. I searched the Good Reads Read Harder recommendations and decided on The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo by Zen Cho.
It was a totally delightful pick. I meant to only read a little bit of it before going to sleep and then read the whole thing in one go because Jade is such a delight.
The story is told in the form of diary entries by Jade, a young woman from Malaya living in London in the 1920s. She doesn’t want to return home and is managing a living as a writer. She has a good friend named Ravi who is one of the people who publish her work. After Ravi publishes her scathing review of a famous author (Sebastian Hardie), her life is turned a little upside down.
I won’t say anymore because it’ll spoil the whole bloody book, but I totally loved it.
Jade is so witty but vulnerable, seemingly using humour and deflection to get her through life. She had some absolutely brilliant lines:
“I skulked in a corner clutching it and trying as hard as I could to look inscrutable and aloof, but feeling scrutable and loof as anything.”
“But I want a chance to be properly bad. So far all I have done as an unaccompanied maiden in London is read and write and cook. This is hardly tasting the delights of debauchery in the Immoral West.”
The other people that populate her diary are lampooned by Jade in wonderful ways, from her grouchy Aunt Iris to the Hardie’s. And most of them are women, aside from Sebastian and Ravi, which I always like.
Anyway, even if you aren’t doing the Read Harder challenge, I would recommend this read. It’s just so fun and Jade is such a wonderful character to spend a bit of time with.
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