The Moon Pearl

Written by Ruthanne Lum McCunn
Review by India Edghill

Set in the Pearl River Delta of China in the 1800s, The Moon Pearl tells of three girls born into the silkworm-growing families of the area. Destined by sex and station to become nothing more than obedient silkworkers and daughters-in-law, Shadow, Mei Ju, and Rooster rebel against fate. Taking vows of eternal spinsterhood, they support themselves by embroidery. Fighting tradition and prejudice, they manage to carve out a new, more hopeful future for themselves, and provide a promise of change for other girls trapped as they were.

While the story feels a bit “preachy,” and the ending seems rather abrupt, The Moon Pearl nevertheless offers a fascinating look at the silk industry and the position of women in 19th century China, and is exquisitely told.