Kathryn Harrison has a gift for creating exceptionally beautiful prose. After reading her memoir, The Kiss, I was compelled to look in to her fiction, though I don't normally like works of fiction. This was a most bizarre book! I wanted to like it - I really did. But I am left feeling somewhat unsettled and a bit disappointed, despite the glorious writing.
The association and relationship between May and Alice is handled beautifully. I loved May as a character, but felt there were far too many periphery characters which really didn't add to the story (Eleanor, and Suzanne, for example). I would have like to have seen the lives of other Chinese nationals explored a bit more (Brother and the other Brother, and possibly May's Grandmother, for example.)
I despise gratuitous sex, and Alice's encounters were just that - gratuitous. The only sex scene that I felt was germane to the story was May's encounters with her first husband. The scene describing May and Suzanne and Suzanne's virginity was simply absurd. Why the author thought it added something to the story, I will never know.
I won't reveal the ending, but suffice it to say, it left me cold. What a cheap way to end what could have been a glorious book. :p
I will try another of her works, simply because I love the way she writes. However, I cannot recommend this book, as it is written. It held so much promise and simply fell flat.