On December 19th, 2006, a friend and I went to a local Goodwill store. I was browsing through the bookshelves and the cover of ‘Till Morning Comes by Han Suyin caught my eye. When I read the summary, I knew I had to have it and couldn’t help but buy it, a decision that I don’t regret at all because almost every year I re-read the book for fun or else see if there might anything I have missed.
‘Till Morning Comes by Han Suyin begins with a beautiful woman named Stephanie Ryder who comes from a wealthy family and ends up in Chungking China where she meets the love of her life named Jen Yong, a dedicated young surgeon. Stephanie and Jen Yong overcome many obstacles to be together as well as go through many upheavals in China from the 1940s up until 1970s, which would make it a contemporary book of its time (Originally ‘Till Morning Comes by Han Suyin was published in 1982.)
Different characters populate and tell their points of views in ‘Till Morning Comes, from Stephanie’s and Jen Yong’s families to their friends and those they impacted for better or worse such as Hsu Towering Cloud who is determined to pay Stephanie back for humiliation, or Liang Little Pond whose mother gets rescued by Stephanie and Jen Yong and who is determined to get revenge against Hsu Towering Cloud.
Reading ‘Till Morning Comes has helped me understand China a great deal as well as see a unique interracial pairing, how difficult the balance becomes when the couple is from different worlds. How much should someone give up and sacrifice, and how much should they keep? There is also difficulty in trying to adjust into the larger picture for the characters, and treatments that the characters receive, such as Stephanie having to carry pictures and proof that she is married to Yong, or Yong thought of as less by Stephanie’s father because he doesn’t fit in into the American standard of masculinity.
Some things that I had trouble with and found lacking when it came to ‘Till Morning Comes by Han Suyin were the power-play that Hsu Towering Cloud is using to get his revenge as well as the role of Liang Little Pond. I honestly thought he would play one role but instead he seemed to be absent a lot in the story and didn’t satisfy the story unfortunately.
I could also relate and understand Stephanie’s struggle with staying in China. Although Han Suyin does give history and understanding behind multiple Chinese events and upheavals, like Stephanie I felt frustration and drainage over the things she has to face and overcome: the constant fear, not knowing what’s going on and so forth.
China is quickly becoming important to the Western world, and it’s imperative that Chinese history, at least from 1940s is read and understood, so why not ‘Till Morning Comes by Han Suyin which gives an appealing combination of a love story with history as the background?
4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)