Reviewed for Readers' Favorite.
The Dance of the Spirits, by Catherine Aerie, is the story of Jasmine Young who is raised in a well-to-do home in China. Her life is punctuated by experiences of wealth and plenty on the one hand, and family misery on the other. Throughout Jasmine’s young years, her mother continually encourages (bullies?) her to become a doctor so that she will be self-sufficient and not have to depend upon an unfaithful man, as has Jasmine’s mother. Into the mix of family life is added Tin-Bo, a street waif whose ability to learn quickly makes him a favorite from amongst the servants, of Jasmine’s mother, various younger sisters to Jasmine who are the consequences of her father’s philandering, and the mothers of those younger sisters who seek to cause division in the Young home. When communism comes to China, Jasmine, to save her family’s honor, goes to war in Korea. While there, she meets the American, Wesley. Through the death and misery of a war-torn land, Jasmine and Wesley find love, while Tin-Bo concludes that Jasmine is to be his or she is to belong to no one else.
On the surface, The Dance of the Spirits is a story of love and of war, but on a deeper level, it is a story of the misery that the communist ideology brought to millions of souls in the twentieth century. Whether that philosophy is related to nationalism, internationalism or faith, Catherine Aerie reminds readers in The Dance of the Spirits, that when a system that will entertain no contradiction in thought or deed comes to power, no one is safe—and no one is free. Aerie draws a vivid picture of war and its price and a tender image of love. This is a story to be read not so much with an expectation of being entertained, as with an eye toward seeking a meaning greater than just that of the lives and events that visit its pages.
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