I thought this was….okay. Not exactly a waste of time, but it did fall short of my expectations. It is about two young men who during Chairman Mao’s reign in China are sent to a little village to be re-educated, due to the fact that their parents are seen as enemies of the state. The re-education consists of these two young men having to horde buckets of excrement up and down a mountain. Their life is monotonous, and they don’t feel that there is much chance of them ever escaping this life. The one bright spot in their days is the little Chinese seamstress of the title – the daughter of the local tailor.
However, the boys discover a box of forbidden books by various authors (including Dickens, Charlotte Bronte, Dumas, and their favourite, the French author Balzac). The books, which they read in secret and relate to the seamstress, have a profound effect on all of them.
I didn’t feel really able to engage with any of the characters; however the book did illustrate the way a love of literature can change someone’s outlook, and show how important books can be to people. It also left me shaking my head again at the unjustness of banning books and stopping people from being encouraged to think for themselves.
Not a dull book, and it probably suffered due to the fact that I loved the book I read before it, but while I can’t say that it wasn’t somewhat entertaining, I came away feeling underwhelmed.