Skip to main content


Literary Friday: Songs of Willow Frost

Friday, July 24, 2015

This week I read Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford.  It might be the best book I've read all year, but it was published in 2013.  I don't know how I've missed hearing about it for two years, but somehow I managed it.  Ford also wrote Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, and  I'm currently reading it.

William Eng is a 12 year old Chinese-American orphan living in Seattle's Sacred Heart orphanage during the Great Depression.  When the boys from Sacred Heart are treated to a movie field trip, William is convinced that the movie star Willow Frost is his mother.  He last saw his mother as she was being taken away to the hospital from their derelict Chinatown apartment five years earlier. Believeing that his mother wants him and doesn't know where to find him, William plots to track her down during one of her tour stops in Seattle.  He decides to run away from Sacred Heart, and he doesn't go alone.  His accomplice on his quest:  a blind female classmate who also happens to be his closest friend at the orphanage.

I don't want to give away any spoilers, but trust me, I couldn't put it down. Ford's writing style is lyrical and enriches the melancholy tone of the story.  I appreciate the history presented in the novel (I had no idea that Seattle was home to one of the largest film studios in the US).  The details about Chinese culture and community are fascinating and give depth to the novel.  Half of the book is told in flashback, but I didn't find the interruption in the forward motion of the plot annoying like I normally do;  Ford utilizes this literary device well.  Seattle is a character in the story, and her opulent movie palaces are described so well that I can picture them in my mind. I've always found it interesting that the movie industry boomed during the Depression when so many other businesses failed.  Folks needed a distraction from their troubles, and Hollywood (and Seattle!) were eager to provide entertainment for the struggling masses.  Movies symbolized hope for a better future for millions of Americans during the Great Depression.  The children at Sacred Heart also hope for the return of their absent parents.  These orphans will break your heart!

I hope you'll read this remarkable book, and I'll post about Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet next week.

What are you reading this summer?  Please link-up and share!

Until next time…

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill


  1. I haven't read anything by this I can't wait to find these books. Thanks for the party my friend. I hope you are feeling much better today. Hugs, Diane

  2. Thanks- this one is on my library TBR list now! :D

  3. Intriguing plot, and I had not heard of this book before.

  4. Hi Ricki Jill, this sounds like it will be a good read. I've just started the series about Phryne Fisher and like it so far. Have a good weekend

  5. I told Steve that Hotel ... Sweet was being made into a movie, but we watched the trailer and it said it was coming out in 2012. Steve emailed Jamie Ford and he explained that the YouTube trailer we saw was from a high school project. The students must have read the novel and then made movie trailers as their book reports.

  6. Oh I was wondering about this one. I read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet and loved it. :)
    Good to know this one was good to. :)

  7. I'm not familiar with this author! Isn't it amazing how many can slip by? I'm glad you loved this one so much. I'm curious to find out what happened with William's mom, if he ever finds out!

  8. Hi Ricki Jill,
    This sounds like it would be a good summer read. I am going to see if the library has it. Thanks for the great review.

  9. I will have to read this! I read a Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet a few years ago and loved it...but it was so bittersweet. I just finished the most recent of Jeffrey Archer's Clifton family saga, and am ready to start The Boys in the Boat about the Olympic rowing team out of the University of Washington in the 1930s.

  10. I read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet and loved it. The friend who passed it along to me actually contacted the author because she liked it so much. I emailed your post to her to see if she's read Songs of Willow Frost. She has and is passing it along to me. :)

  11. Hi Ricki Jill, I always enjoy seeing what you're reading! I'm listening to more than I'm reading these days which is convenient for walking the dogs or spending mornings watering. I'm currently listening to The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry, ready by one of my favorite narrators, Scott Brick :)

  12. This sounds great! I am definitely going to have to add this to my wish list as well.


Comments are friendly!


I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.

Follow me on Instagram