After Xing-Xing’s biological mother pass away, she faces a life of servitude to her rather unpleasant stepmother and spoiled stepsister. The stepmother binds her daughter Wei Ping’s foot, hoping it will secure her a marriage. When the girl develops complications from the procedure, Xing Xing must travel far for help. Upon her return, a mysterious carp plays a key role in changing Xing-Xing’s fate.

Touching and repulsive, fascinating and foul, this well written “Cinderella” story explains ancient Chinese customs and beliefs through engaging characters and a simplistic, yet poetic writing style. There are some descriptions and references to be aware of – the mutilation of the feet through the binding practice, the killing of some baby raccoons, and the terms impotence and transvestites are mentioned in passing.

Bound seems to be a very well researched book, offering a thorough and interesting look at Western Chinese practices during the Ming period. Plan to include discussions on both the strange religious rituals and the foot binding practice.

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