Ellen is a poet and artist, a forty-six year old divorced woman who wishes she had someone to share the joys and beauties of her rural life -- someone with whom to watch the circling hawk, the setting sun. And if he could fix some of the broken things around her ramshackle farmhouse -- well that would be nice too.
She imagined a man with "a sweet and burly personality, and he came over after work in his tight, dirty blue jeans. He was wily and strong and always smiling. He would swing me up over his head, I would bubble with laughter, and then we would fix stuff."
This is the story of the man she got -- the man who, at the suggestion of a friend, Ellen went to China to meet and, after two weeks, marry. Zhong-hua is a stoic survivor of China's Cultural Revolution. When they met, he spoke almost no English and in the beginning he broke far more things than he fixed, but he was the man with whom she fell in love and with whom she began slowly to piece together a life.
Zhong-hua is, in the end, a love story and a lesson in acceptance -- in surrendering to the moment. I loved the poetic descriptions, the wry humor, the philosophical insights, and the down-the-rabbit-hole quality of the entire adventure that is the marriage of these two amazing people.
Full disclosure: I know Ellen slightly -- she's the sister of a good friend -- and I read bits of this book while it was being written. It's possible my view of the book isn't totally objective. But I really am enthusiastic about it -- read it in less than 24 hours. If I hadn't liked it, I just would have kept quiet. I do, however, love this book and think that many of you will too.