Reading for Me

The Books I Have Read…..Just for Me

#22: The Oriental Wife (Evelyn Toynton)

on December 31, 2014

My final book of 2014 was another installment in My Library Shelf project. The Oriental Wife was a book that was both engaging and confusing at the same time. The story begins with three young German children who find themselves dealing with the horrors of the 1930s. Ultimately, all three find themselves in the United States, but things do not turn out any smoother for them. It seems the book itself is a study of the impact of human loss and human cruelty.

The confusion came on several levels. First, there is the issue of the title. What in the world does the idea of an “oriental wife” have to do with anything in this story? There are references at the end of the novel to a wife of a Indo-Chinese businessman who leaves New York unexpectedly, but Toynton does not establish a clear connection between the figure and the rest of the story. My other issue with the book is its abrupt shifts and lack of continuity. Divided into three parts, the book is united by returning characters. However, the lives of these characters seem totally different than what was observed in the previous section. For instance, part 2 centers around the severe illness of Louisa and her apparent helplessness. By the time we begin part 3, Louisa is living in a boarding house where she requires little assistance for her disability and it is her ex-husband who is now sick with terminal cancer. While there is a certain amount of karma in this aspect of the story, the end of the book focuses on Louisa’s daughter to such a large degree that the idea of revenge is completely loss.

The writing had potential. I found myself thrust into the author’s world. It simply lacked development of plot. This is the only work by Toynton on my library shelf….and I don’t intend to seek out other works by this horribly confusing author.


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