Zoe S. Roy
Inanna Publications (2019)
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (12/19)
“Spinster Kang” by Zoe S. Roy is the delightful tale of Kang, a young woman determined to make a life for herself outside of the limits set on women in China. As an unmarried woman in her early thirties, Kang is labeled with the stigma of being a “spinster,” but she isn’t convinced she needs a man in her life to be complete and refuses to be tied down by that narrow-minded classification. She migrates to Canada confident she will achieve the life she is looking for. Kang experiences some setbacks such as having to go back to school for her teaching certificate, working multiple jobs, and finding suitable living accommodations. She also carries with her a strong psychological fear and distrust of men based on an incident involving her sister during their childhood. Will Kang be able to keep her focus on her goals or will she be swept off her feet?
“Spinster Kang” was such a fun reading experience. The story itself spans several genres from women’s fiction to historical fiction with some romance, mystery and adventure thrown in. It also feels a lot like a coming of age novel which brings a certain innocence to the overall tone of the story.
Kang is an interesting character with a unique outlook on life. Even though she is in her early thirties, she is quite naïve in the ways of the world and experiences many defining moments of growth. Readers watch her touching journey as her character arcs and blossoms by the end of the story. One point of note – as a reader who is very character-driven, I have to say that while Kang exposes her genuine character, I did not get that intimate sense of connection with all of the characters.
The element in which the author shines, however, is through her powerful descriptions. Canadian, Chinese and Russian cultures are all explored with great detail. The way Roy integrates lifestyle, customs, traditions, language, arts and food into her story provides readers with the complete cultural experience of each country. I often-times felt like I was on a guided tour and happily learned a lot about the similarities and differences of each society. Some of the food prepared and enjoyed in the novel made my mouth water and I love the care the author takes to establish this connection with the reader.
Overall, I recommend “Spinster Kang” as a charming tale that fans of women’s issues, romance, coming of age, history and culture will appreciate!