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The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo [Kindle Edition]

Zen Cho
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

For writer Jade Yeo, the Roaring Twenties are coming in with more of a purr. She's perfectly happy making a living by churning out articles on what the well-dressed woman is wearing. But when she pillories one of London's leading literary luminaries in a scathing review, she may have made the mistake of her career.

Sebastian Hardie is tall, dark and handsome--and more intrigued than annoyed. Jade is irresistibly drawn to the prospect of adventure he offers. But if she succumbs to temptation, she risks losing her hard-won freedom--and her best chance for love.


EXCERPT

Hardie looked at me. I thought he was going to say something serious and philosophical about loneliness, but instead he lifted his hand and traced the air just above my cheekbones, almost touching me but not quite.

“It’s a shame I’m no sort of artist,” he said, so low I had to strain to hear him over the noise. “How I should like to paint those lines.”

Now what is one supposed to say to that?

“I’m sure you’d be nice to paint too,” I said, unable to think of anything better.

Hardie laughed.

“Poor Ariel,” he said. “Alone on an incomprehensible island. Has any other mariner heard your whispers, or did they think it just the wind?”

“I’m really more of a Caliban,” I said primly.

Hardie tilted his head.

“Even better,” he said.

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Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 371 KB
  • Print Length: 97 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Zen Cho; 1 edition (30 May 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0087NQRM2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #124,809 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Zen Cho is a Malaysian writer of SFF and romance. She was born and raised in Selangor, read law at Cambridge, and currently lives in London. Her debut historical fantasy novel SORCERER TO THE CROWN is forthcoming from Ace/Roc in the US and Pan Macmillan in the UK in autumn 2015.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous! 27 July 2015
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
4.5/5
This is my first time reading Zen Cho, and the reason I picked it was because one of the big blogs raved about this novella a few months back. I downloaded an excerpt, forgot about it, and only started reading it last week. Ladies and gents, few paragraphs in I knew it would be excellent, so I went back and bought it.

Fantastic, witty and blunt language, funny and super smart, - the voice of Jade is an absolute delight. If you're coming out of a very badly written book, this is your remedy to put you back on track. Highly recommended!
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4.0 out of 5 stars tea and biscuits in the twenties 28 Sept. 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I did enjoy the book, despite the twenties not being my favourite period. Jade is an enjoyably independent heroine, although it took me a while to realise the book was set in the twenties and not just terrifically old-fashioned. Tea and biscuits tropes in English fiction are a pet peeve of mine, but that's what comes from being a Brit, I guess.
Anyway, a very well written book with a beautiful cover which reminded me a bit of 'The L shaped Room'. Also worth checking out the author's website for links to more genre fiction.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected at all. 19 May 2015
By Mark
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Jade has a beautiful epistolary style that paints her as flippant, but in truth she is anything but. This is a charming and light read, but with more underlying it for those who wish to see it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars It's a pleasure to meet Jade Yeo 2 Jun. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This well-written and entertaining novella of life in literary London of the Twenties is a fun and quick read, with a well-judged message about the problems of orientalism.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  24 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome, unusual romance 19 Jun. 2012
By Aliette De Bodard - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
I'll freely admit that romance isn't my stuff, but this is so sweet and so sharp at the same time that it's well worth a read. In the London of the Roaring Twenties, writer Jade Yeo struggles to make a living--until her path intersects that of noted writer Sebastian Hardie, to unexpected circumstances. I loved seeing a well worn historical period from a non-English point of view (and having the subtle indictment of colonialism as well). Zen has a very sharp eye for detail, which makes the pages of this just fly by (loved that Jade snarkily comments on the quality of Chinese vases in London townhouses, and just loved her relationship with Ravi)
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sweet, fun, so well done 5 July 2012
By Shannon Phillips - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
"The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo" is enormously fun and deftly written. It's a sweet, engaging romance with a very likable heroine -- smart but naive, practical but inexperienced, independent but not *quite* prepared for the consequences of her indiscretions. A very sweet, entertaining read.

And I want to make it clear that the only reason I'm docking this a star is because I'm judging it by the standard of Jane Austen and Dorothy Sayers. By THAT standard, okay? Zen Cho is absolutely at that level: she deserves the comparison. This story is very smart and completely charming. But ultimately it's a fun, quick read rather than an enduring classic for the ages, because things are a little *easy* for Jade -- she just does whatever she wants, and then the happy ending kind of falls into her lap. She isn't forced to wrestle with the flaws of her own character the way that, say, Elizabeth Bennet or Harriet Vane do before they get their happy-ever-afters.

Instead, this is a cotton-candy story. It dissolves on your mind and leaves a sweet taste behind.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A+ 22 Dec. 2012
By ryfkah - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
For anyone who likes romance, or the 1920s, or fearless and witty Malaysian lady writer protagonists who write scathing literary criticism, or in fact all of these things should read this novella immediately.

This is a novella written in diary entries about books and feelings. In more detail, it's also about London's fashionable avant-garde literary set of the 1920s, and brilliant and sexy Indian journal editors, and intolerable aunts -- all right, just the one editor and just the one aunt, but they have more than enough personality to make up for it. But mostly it is just adorable. (I'm a hard sell on romance; when I say something is adorable I mean it.)
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Completely charming 2 Aug. 2012
By sixquarters - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Cho's storytelling is deft and her style is light and lovely. I would've happily spent a full novel with Jade Yeo but the story I got didn't feel rushed or strained, only natural to the form. And I absolutely loved this vision of London in the twenties.
4.0 out of 5 stars A charming confection 16 Mar. 2015
By Rachelphoenix - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A charming novella about Geok Huay (Jade Yeo), a young writer living in London in the 20s. When she writes a scathing review of a prominent novelist's latest book, he responds by inviting her to a party and flirting. A writer needs life experience, so how can she decline the opportunity for the learning experience of an affair?

The book has elements of romance, but it's more of a coming-of-age story; the affair is not particularly romantic, and includes a hilarious, deliberately non-erotic sex scene in which Geok Huay earnestly tries to mentally describe a penis for future use in her writing. The actual romance is plausible but sketchily developed.

There's not much real conflict but the book isn't really about the plot. It's about Geok Huay's voice. And her voice is a complete delight. I really, really enjoyed reading this book. It's the sort of book where you keep wanting to read funny bits aloud to any companion you might have on hand while you're reading it. The humor and meta-commentary on story and writing reminded me a bit of "Cold Comfort Farm."

I reproduce an excerpt below, so you can get a sense of the writing style. If you like the excerpt, you will almost certainly like the book. (If you don't, you probably won't.)

Saturday, 7th August 1920

I had tea with the intolerable aunt today. Aunt Iris, the one who is so rich she has a new fur every year, and so mean she has installed a tip box by the door of every WC in her house, so you have to pay a charge every time you need to go. And so sinfully vainglorious I remember she came to visit us at home once and wore a wonderful glossy black mink fur. She sat on the sofa with a fixed grin on her face, sweating gallons in the heat. Ma had to send Koko out to get the doctor. It was just before New Year and Ma was terrified Aunt Iris would go into an apoplexy in our drawing room–which would have been such bad luck.

I had my angle of attack all planned out today, though. On Wednesday I’d found out how much a piece of chocolate cake cost at the restaurant, and I went in with the exact change in my purse. When the waiter asked me what I wanted, I said: “Chocolate cake, please”, and I counted out my coins and paid him right then and there.

“I haven’t got any more money than that,” I explained.

Aunt Iris was furious: she looked like an aunt and she was wearing her furs, of course. Even the English must have thought it peculiar. But even so she didn’t offer to pay. She ordered two different kinds of cake and a pot of their most expensive tea, just to show me. But I profited in the end because she couldn’t finish even half of one of her slices of cake. I whipped out my notebook and tore out a page and wrapped the other slice in that.

“I’ll save you the hassle of eating it, auntie,” I said. “You must be so full now! I don’t know how you stay so slim at your age.”

I hadn’t meant the reference to her age as a jibe. My mother is a very modern woman in most ways, but she would still be offended to be accounted any younger than she is. Her opinion is that she did not struggle her way to the august age of forty-three only to have the dignity accorded to her years snatched away from her.

But Aunt Iris has become quite Western from living here so long. She has a passionate hunger for youth. It is especially hard on her to be thwarted in it because the British can never tell an Oriental’s age, so she’s been accustomed to being told she looks ten years younger than she is.

“My dear Jade,” she said in her plushest voice–her voice gets the more velvety the crosser she is–“I know you don’t mean to be impolite. Not that I’m saying anything against your dear mother at all–your grandmother wouldn’t have known to teach her these things, of course, considering her circumstances. But as an aunt I do feel I have the right to give you–oh, not a scolding, dearest, but advice, meant in the most affectionate way, you know–given for your sake.”

The swipe at my grandmother’s “circumstances” made me unwise. Aunt Iris is not really an aunt, but a cousin of Ma’s. Her mother was rich and Ma’s mother was poor. But my grandmother was as sharp as a tack even if she couldn’t read and Aunt Iris’s mother never had two thoughts to rub together, even though she had three servants just to look after her house.

“You should call me Geok Huay, Auntie, please,” I said. “With family, there’s no need for all this ‘Jade’.”

I spoke in an especially Chinese accent just to annoy her. Aunt Iris’s face went prune-like.

“Oh, but Jade is such a pretty name,” she said. “And ‘Geok Huay’, you know!” She looked as if my name were a toad that had dropped into her cup of tea. “‘Geok Huay’ in the most glamorous city in the world, in the twentieth century! It has rather an absurd sound to it, doesn’t it?”

“No more absurd than Bee Hoon,” I said. “I’ve always wished I could name a daughter of mine Bee Hoon.”

A vein in Aunt Iris’s temples twitched.

“It means ‘beautiful cloud’,” I said dreamily. “Why doesn’t Uncle Gerald ever call you Bee Hoon, Auntie?”

Aunt Iris said hastily:

“Well, never mind–you’d best take the cake, my dear. Are you sure you don’t want sandwiches as well?”

I was not at all sure I did not want sandwiches. I said I would order some just in case, and ordered a whole stack of them: ham and salmon and cheese and cucumber. Aunt Iris watched me deplete the stack in smiling discontent.

“Greedy little creature!” she tittered. “I would rap your knuckles for stuffing yourself, but you rather need feeding. You are a starveling little slip of a thing, aren’t you? Rose and Clarissa, now, have lovely figures. They are just what real women should look like, don’t you think?”

“You mean they have bosoms and I don’t,” I thought, but did not say. It didn’t seem worth trying to enunciate through a mouthful of sandwich.
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