By Y S Lee
Mary, a fugitive with ambiguous heritage and past, she escaped her death and found a normal life in an all girl school. She enjoyed a stable life but at 17, she wanted more. Being a teacher wasn’t enough. So, she became a spy.
Mary Russell (Mrs. Holmes, The Beekeepers Apprentice) had recommended The Agency in her tweet. One look at the description, I knew I had to read them. And I was almost out of commission until I was done with book 1 and 2.
Ying’s writing spirited me away to a Victorian England I didn’t know. I didn’t know the Chinese were treated as badly as they were in the States, I didn’t even know there were Chinese living in England then.
The story intrigued me because of Ying’s idea for The Agency itself. Women were still viewed as property at the time, rich or poor. And the working class females made perfect spies since people ignore them as if they were invisible.
The story moved me because I, too, know how it feels to be Chinese and non-Chinese in the western society. I was much luckier that I didn’t suffer discrimination but the internal struggles of fitting myself into a specific race is the same.
If you haven’t been in our shoes, you might never understand this. It’s very strange but I feel more Chinese when I am with Americans and I feel like an American when I am with Chinese.
Life is easier for me than for Mary, since I am free to think that it’s OK to be both at the same time. All I need to do was to be OK with it myself. After that, it doesn’t matter what other people think.
How many books have you read that taught you history, transported your mind, and echoed with your essence?