The Tenth Muse

Thoughts by Catherine Chung, Ecco 2019, 291 pages

Challenge: Personal; I added this to my tbr after reading her lovely judgment in the TOB that advanced a book over my favorite. THAT was how lovely it was.

Genre/Theme: Contemporary Lit / Feminism, Mathematics

Type/Source: Hardback / Library

What It’s About: The chase for a not-quite-yet solved math puzzle as well as love and identity. Kat is a woman mathematician born in the WW2 years; the story unfolds as she chronicles her life and her search for self — her parents (seem to?) fail her, the education system fails her, her mentors fail to understand her quest for respect. She is undeterred. She sets challengingly high goals career goals to prove to the worlds and herself her own worth. Puzzle pieces fall into place but then never quite fit. Eventually she learns to trust others AND herself.

I couldn’t help but wonder why so many intelligent men aren’t more embarrassed to speak on topics they know nothing about…

Thoughts: Kat is Chinese American and confused as a child because NO ONE will explain anything to her. She has a fierce attitude and determination and this tone is present throughout the narrative. I feared for her and didn’t like a few of her decisions but that is part of the mystery. I was kept guessing what was the true story. As for her heritage and consideration of other paths not taken, I so wish Henry would have come around! Such is life; this ain’t no HEA romance, but I did fall for our heroine a little bit.

Still, I wonder now why it had been necessary, and why my teacher disliked me so much — whether it was because I was a girl, or my family wasn’t from [the town], or because I was half Chinese. But it occurs to me now that even if those were not the reasons she treated me badly, they were the conditions that made it possible to do so.

Rating: Four slices of pie. No pie mentioned.

Let everything happen to you, beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final.



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