Haralambi Markov looks at my story “The Chrysanthemum Bride”, which first appeared at Fantasy Magazine in 2009.
“The Chrysanthemum Bride” gives Slatter the necessary setting and platform to examine the unsavory fates allotted to women who embody the traditional female virtues – beauty, grace, poise and submission – and deconstruct the ‘happy ever after’ moment that comes to virtuous and beautiful girls who meet their prince. What better way to do so than in ancient China with its overcomplicated hierarchy and intricate cultural structure compromising of rituals, customs and rules.
Predominantly, “The Chrysanthemum Bride” explores beauty – its presence and its absence, its weight and its price – through the lives of two sisters, Mei-Ju and Chen-Ju. Although have the same blood and the same heritage, Mei-Ju is beautiful whereas her sister is plain. It’s not a pretty sisterly relationship as beauty serves as a divide where one stands above the other. The simple fact Mei-Ju possesses startling beauty warrants a special treatment:
“She is sleek but a little plump; any spare food goes to her, to keep her beauty intact, for her family believe this is how she will save them. If she is lovely enough, a rich man will take her as wife or concubine, then, they pray, prosperity will flow to them, that emptiness will become full again.”