The #travelbookclub discusses The Painter of Shanghai by Jennifer Cody Epstein

It was a smaller than usual book club this month, due to work commitments and holidays but nevertheless we enjoyed a good discussion about The Painter of Shanghai.

It was the first time that we had chosen a fiction book to read but the story is based on a real-life artist and, as it is set between China and France, there was still plenty of material to allow us to talk about our favourite thing – travel!

Before we began we also received a lovely message from Jennifer herself:
  1. Next month we’re discussing The Painter of Shanghai by Jennifer Cody Epstein on June 5 at 9pm GMT. We’d love you to join!

@grownupgapyear Hi Emily–thrilled to hear you are reading Painter! Let me know if you’d like me to answer any questions for your group 🙂

As I had to work that night, @pegsontheline kindly offered to host the discussion. The first question was:

Q1 Were the book’s descriptions of China what you’ve experienced or imagined the country to be like? Via @grownupgapyear#travelbookclub

A1 I loved the contrasts between old and new China because I felt that even on my visit last year #travelbookclub

A1: I thought the book showed a darker side of China that I hadn’t experienced or known about #travelbookclub

Question 2 had us all day-dreaming about future trips:

Q2 Does the book inspire you to visit China? If so, why and where would you go? Via @PegsontheLine#travelbookclub

A2 @PegsontheLine I’ve been to China, but nt Shanghai. Made me want to visit France/Rome more. . . LOL#travelbookclub

A2 I really want to visit Shanghai, the book sealed the deal! #travelbookclub

A2: I never made it to Nanjing and now am very keen to go #travelbookclub

Question 3 revealed a number of interesting things the book had taught us:

Q3 Did the book teach you something about Chinese culture that surprised you? Via @pegsontheline#travelbookclub

A3 I had read about foot binding before but found it so interesting. Also the fact that her husband ‘unbound’ her feet #travelbookclub

A3 I was surprised that students were sent west at that time, fascinating #travelbookclub

The ‘real-life’ element of the book was the subject of question 4:

Q4 Were you excited to learn that the paintings actually exist? Are you going to try to visit them? Via @vagabondbaker#travelbookclub

A4: I viewed some online, surprised at the execution/rawness of the paintings. #travelbookclub Not my line of expertise. . .

A4 I didn’t even know the story was real til I read the epilogue! Blew me away, I’m not kidding! I can’t believe they exist! #travelbookclub

A4: I’d love to see the paintings and also her grave in Paris #travelbookclub

And the final question of the evening was:

Last one…Q5 Do you think Yuliang’s work would be received any different if she was unveiling it now? Via @pegsontheline#travelbookclub

A5 I’m not sure. Apparently the paintings are one display in China now so that signifies a change in attitude #travelbookclub

A5: I think her being a woman painting nudes helped and hurt her in society. Today not as controversial/interesting. #travelbookclub

We really enjoyed discussing The Painter of Shanghai and received another message from Jennifer the next day:

#travelbookclub Just a note of thanks for discussing my book! I was busy last night but just ran through all your thoughtful comments

Next month we’re reading an African adventure, Red Tape and White Knuckles by Lois Pryce, which was chosen by @JessicaRose_91. We’ll be talking about it on July 3 at 9pm GMT. We’d love you to join us!

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