Trials of Life


 Trials of Life (Journey to the West #2)

IMG_1421Book Blurb: This novel is sequel to The Same Moon, and we follow Pearl in her journey and pursuit in personal and professional fulfilment. The story is told in different voices, painting a full picture of Pearl’s new life in the UK, Will she find love or will she be confronted with more trials and tribulations?
Pearl meets Andrew Church, the man of her dreams and then gets a job at a UK university. Perfect or is it not so? Her senior colleague Dick Appleton does not welcome her, and when he discovers that Pearl has a secret mission, he grabs the opportunity. Having had a privileged upbringing, gone to the world-famous institution Oxford, and enjoying a wonderful lifestyle, Dick would not allow anyone, let alone Pearl, to stand in his way.
While Dick fights to protect his reputation and standing, Pearl seeks justice. How can she battle against the powerful machine behind the big men? Would reality teach Pearl a lesson that there is no perfect justice in this world? Or does the ancient Chinese belief hold true that everything happens for a reason? Is it fate or simply the trials of life?

Reviews from GoodReads 

‘s review – 5 of 5 stars

I spent a good while reading this book and returned to it many times to re-read passages and think about what I’d read. It stirred up many emotions because the situations were very authentic and reminded me a lot of my own life.

Although it’s a novel and the events are fictionalised, it has the feel of a documentary. There is a fly-on-the-wall realism about it, giving us slices of the characters’ lives. As the title suggests, these lives do not run smoothly. There are upsets and problems.

Conflict is necessary in a novel. It is exciting to see characters bumping up against obstacles and each other. It shows us what they are made of. And it is exhilarating to see them winning through.

But because of the documentary style of this novel, you have a sense that not all the conflicts will end happily. In life conflicts can be messy. There often are no real solutions to a problem. People go on annoying us. Bad people persist in their bad behaviour. We get distressed and traumatised and have nervous breakdowns as a result.

In Trials of Life, the situations are all too real and I felt real anger and real frustration in response to what was happening on the page. There are scenes and characters that I recognise only too well. Scenes such as when Dick Appleton is boasting of how he gave his Chinese minders the slip in Xian. He managed, he says, to spend the night in the sleazy part of the city where he saw teahouses packed with prostitutes. Naturally, the Chinese officials would not have wanted that.

But there is a certain way foreigners talk about the Chinese government that makes a Chinese person grind their teeth in frustration. There is a shallowness and arrogance to them in the face of which you are completely helpless. You have no choice but to let them persist in their ignorance while letting them believe that they are superior and you are the stupid one.

Chinese people are not hoodwinked by their government. We know that China is not perfect. But foreigners often believe that they know what goes on in China far better than we do because they are not ‘brainwashed’. They are experts by virtue of being outsiders.

Being reminded of this is in dialogue that is all too authentic stirred up very real emotions in me. But Dick Appleton, I should stress, is a particularly villainous character. He is not your typical foreigner. He is rotten to the core.

A large part of the book is focused on an employment tribunal and the events leading up to it. We learn in bitter detail what kind of a man Dick is and what Pearl suffers at his hands. But I have to give credit to Pearl and to the author of this book, Junying Kirk. Pearl challenges Dick. She faces her demons and Junying faced hers, I am sure, in writing this book.

It is a stirring story that must draw on very personal experiences. It is free from artifice. Sincerity is in every line. It succeeds in documenting with great accuracy the trials and also the triumphs of an academic life split across two very different continents. Anyone who reads it can’t fail to be moved. And it will, I hope, allow English-speaking readers to get a better grasp of what it means to be Chinese.


Tabitha Ormiston-Smith

Tabitha Ormiston-Smith rated it 5 Stars

Anatomy of an Harassment ClaimThis wonderful book dissects and lays bare the entire course of an harassment claim, from the events leading to the claim through the hearing and its aftermath. A beautifully crafted work, the book tells the story from a series of changing viewpoints of the many people involved.
Matt Posner

Matt Posner rated it 4  stars

Trials of Life is Junying Kirk’s second novel, and is both like and unlike her first. Like The Same Moon, this work features the troubled life and growth of Zhang Zhenzhu, known to us as Pearl, a scholarly Chinese woman who grew up in the first novel and is now a professional in crisis. Unlike The Same Moon, Trials of Life changes viewpoint frequently. We also experience the perspectives of Pearl’s boyfriend/husband, Andrew Church; of the book’s villain, the loathsome Dick Appleton, who gets a l…more

Bluejay44 rated it 4 Stars

“This thought-provoking novel is the sequel to The Same Moon, as we continue to follow Pearl in her education and cultural adaptation to the UK, with snapshots of her memories of China. It is about transition, from East to West. It deals with clashes of culture, sexual harassment, bullying and falling in love. The story is told in the voices of different characters, painting a full picture of events. “An interesting read on several levels. To see not only a different cultural outlook, but to se…more
Katy Sozaeva

Katy Sozaeva rated it 4 Stars

Recommends it for: those who enjoy reading about people who overcome and rise above adversity
Recommended to Katy by: Junying Kirk
Shelves: ebooki-edited
“Trials of Life” is the second book in the Journey to the West trilogy by author Junyung Kirk. Like the first book – The Same Moon – this is not the type of book I would normally read, but Ms. Kirk asked me if I would be so kind as to read and provide reviews for her books and I was happy to do so.“Trials of Life” was a much more difficult book than the first book in the series. While “The Same Moon” is focused on Pearl’s point-of-view exclusively, this book changes point of view frequently and…more
Eden Baylee

Eden Baylee rated it 5 Stars

Trials of Life is the sequel to The Same Moon, which I truly enjoyed, and I’d highly recommend be read prior to this one, as it follows the main character – Pearl, in her quest to the West.The style of writing is different in this one with shifting POVs. This goes against most of the conventional rules I’ve learned about writing, yet, once I settled into the story, this was not an issue as the plot drew me in.We learn of Pearl’s education in the West —not all of it is good, and this story cen…more

Sandra rated it 5 of 5 stars
Pearl just started a job at a University in England. Her supervisor over her has harassed her in various ways while on trips to China and at home in England. She prosecutes a case against him and the ensuing trial is here for all to see. This story goes into the background of her supervisor Dick Appleton, (who is the harasser) and his life. It also goes into some of the background of some of the other characters. Pearl is a woman who has grown up with various trials in her life, but she has a backbone of steel …more

Vered Ehsani

Vered Ehsani rated it 3 Stars

‘Trials of Life’ picks up sometime after ‘The Same Moon’ ends. We find that Pearl has established herself in the UK, and is happily married. Then she reads a news article about the death of Dr Richard Appleton, and her thoughts are flung into turmoil. She begins to reflect on the difficulties she went through to get where she currently is; some of them are pretty intense and include Richard.This novel is a bit different from ‘The Same Moon’, which provides fascinating insights into China of the…more
John Kirk rated it 4 Stars
An involving read. It deals with some tough issues like adaptation to a new culture, bullying and more positively with love. Well worth your attention.

Amazon Review 


Vince rated it 4 Stars

Ms. Kirk characters – Will stick with you for a long time

By VConsidine – Published on

The Joker in the “Dark Knight”. Dr Hannibal Lecter in “Red Dragon, The Judge from Blood Meridian. Ms. KirkIMG_1420 creation, description and actions of Dr. Richard Appleton will tremor your spine.

“Trials of Life” is the second book in the Journey to the West series. The series main character Pearl, married, content and living in the UK. Pearl’s happiness is quickly erased when she finds out about the death of Dr. Richard Appleton and this revelation brings back painful memories of her difficult journey. This when the book makes an imprint and were Ms.Kirk injects the vile Dr. Appleton into the reader’s conscious. The book is well written and subjectiveMs. Kirk is a character creative monster and that is something you can’t teach. Five stars The reason why my overall rating is four stars – I wanted more from Pearl. Enjoyed it very much.

Great Sequel to The Same Moon 4 Stars

*If you enjoy the first book you will be in for a treat with the second book (Trials of life). The second novel is brilliant on its own but is best appreciated after reading the first one (just like the Hobbit and Lord of the rings). Trials of life is beautifully written, I absolutely love the writing style (won’t spoil you on how it is written). At times my eyes well up at such intense emotions seeping through the page, I was gripped from the first page and cannot put the kindle down all weekend. Once again Junying has proved that one does not have to have a printed book to be considered a good writer, a very good one indeed. I can’t wait for the next novel to come out.

Trilogy Cover

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