By Aimee Liu
This novel is rather vast in scope, sweeping through political and historical events in China, from the beginning of the 20th century to World War II.
It is on the forbidden love between Hope, an American teacher, and Paul, a Chinese revolutionary, and is set in turn-of-the-century America. The story shifts to a turbulent China where revolutionary students rise against the Manchu rulers in Hankow.
Decades of upheaval begin as feuding landlords thwart Paul and his friends' dreams for democracy.
Initially, the novel reads like a normal romance book, but the change in locale from America to China, however, injects a new spark. We get a close look at Chinese politics through Paul, his friends, and of course, Hope.
In spite of his disillusionment with the revolution, Paul stays in the thick of battle and the desire to bring about change never leaves. As his absences from the family get longer and more frequent, Hope and Paul drift apart, though he always comes home to her. To the children, he is a remote and intimidating figure.
As the family moves from Shanghai to Beijing, Kuling and Wuhan, where Paul's mother is dying, we can see the country through Hope's eyes, and her attitude is somewhat that of a tourist, often finding Chinese customs strange and even barbaric.
Of course, central to the novel is the love between Hope and Paul. The mixed marriage is definitely a strain and racism and prejudice seems to be a theme here.
In America, they wake up to burning dead rats at their doorstep and face newspaper denouements of their union; in China, Hope is always a foreigner.
Their children, a mixed breed, face discrimination and even exploitation.
Cloud Mountain, a story of forbidden love in which East meets the West, is quite an interesting story as it is imbued with the romance of China and its history, mixed with the thrill and danger of war always present.
The author's views on the book
The events retold in Cloud Mountain are virtually all true. The main characters are based on members of my family. The history is accurate, and the historical figures, such as Sun Yat-sen, Yuan Shih-kai, and Mikhail Borodin are all carefully researched -- they were associated with my family as described. Events such as the firing squad, midnight escapes, and rescue during the San Francisco Earthquake -- and of course the wedding trip to Wyoming -- are all true.
The reason I chose to tell this story as a novel was that I wanted to get into the hearts and heads of these characters, especially my grandparents, whom I never knew. I wanted to live their adventures and experience their courage through the magic of fiction. I hope you will enjoy the adventure as much as I did. Please let us know what you think! (taken from Amazon Bookstore)