The Blue Mountains of China is the sweeping saga of two generations of Mennonite families and their attempt to find a homeland where they can express the radical faith to which they have pledged their lives. As Canadian author Rudy Wiebe moves this narrative from the early twentieth century to the novel’s present, he documents the trials and struggles, as well as the spiritual victories and joys, that followed the Mennonite community which escaped from Russia and migrated to the rugged landscapes of Western Canada and South America in the century between the 1870’s and the 1970’s.
The Blue Mountains of China contains no conventional plot. Each chapter is a somewhat self-contained episode in which various individual narrators each provide an idiosyncratic account of the events, relationships, and inner thoughts that illuminate his or her life. Wiebe’s use of multiple narrators and his abrupt changes in setting and era achieve a literary montage which helps the reader to share the feelings of movement, displacement, and disorientation that his characters are themselves experiencing.
The novel’s thirteen chapters, each with its own heading, alternately follow episodes in the lives of Jakob Friesen, David Epp, and the Reimers. Interspersed among these discrete narratives are Frieda Friesen’s journal entries, which provide essential historical information about the Friesen family while progressively tying together...
(The entire section is 536 words.)