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The Good Women Of China: Hidden Voices [Kindle Edition]

4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)

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Book Description

For eight groundbreaking years, Xinran presented a radio programme in China during which she invited women to call in and talk about themselves. Broadcast every evening, Words on the Night Breeze became famous through the country for its unflinching portrayal of what it meant to be a woman in modern China. Centuries of obedience to their fathers, husbands and sons, followed by years of political turmoil had made women terrified of talking openly about their feelings. Xinran won their trust and, through her compassion and ability to listen, became the first woman to hear their true stories.

This unforgettable book is the story of how Xinran negotiated the minefield of restrictions imposed on Chinese journalists to reach out to women across the country. Through the vivid intimacy of her writing, the women's voices confide in the reader, sharing their deepest secrets for the first time. Their stories changed Xinran's understanding of China forever. Her book will reveal the lives of Chinese women to the West as never before.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Xinran's The Good Women of China continues the tradition of Chinese women writing in recent years. Jung Chang, in Wild Swans, and Aiping Mu, in Vermilion Gate, for example, have written of the effect of recent Chinese history on themselves and their families. However, both of these books, and others like them, have been by women from the upper echelons of Chinese society. What of ordinary Chinese women? How are their voices to be heard?

Xinran worked for eight years as a well-known presenter at a Chinese radio station. As a public figure, she received many letters. Most of them were from women. Moved by the stories she was hearing in the letters, she decided to go in search of more of the truths about Chinese women's lives. What she found was terrible suffering; women who had endured lengthy sexual abuse during the Cultural Revolution, women whose wretched poverty was made more miserable by the dictates of a male-centred society, women who had had their children taken from them or who had lost them in earthquakes and other natural disasters. And, amid all the suffering, she found their capacity to endure and somehow survive.

Xinran is not a diffident or modest journalist. The reader gets to hear quite a lot of people in the course of her book, telling her how honest and humane and famous she is. This is, unsurprisingly, exasperating. However, someone more modest, and with a less robust sense of her own importance and the importance of what she was doing, would not have gathered the material that she has done. She would not have gone to those places she needed to go in order to record the stories in her book. The voices of the many women to whom she listened would not have been heard. --Nick Rennision


"These are stories that must be read" (Amy Tan)

"This is a book from deep in the heart of China. As shocking as it is revealing... An extraordinary and eye-opening read" (Jon Snow)

"Xinran's "Good Women of China" are all strong, strikingly resourceful characters who offer unforgettable insights into the past and present of Chinese women's lives" (The Times)

"The Good Women of China demands attention" (Observer)

"[Xinran] writes compassionately but unsentimentally, dramatising the stories like gripping fiction" (Daily Mail)

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 708 KB
  • Print Length: 258 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1400030803
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital; New Ed edition (20 Mar. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003D87Q4O
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #36,281 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring!! 6 Feb. 2004
I have recently had the joy of reading 'The Good Women of China' and as a Chinese woman myself I feel I have been educated through the eyes of the women who tell their stories. I have found myself to identify with the harsh realities of my culture. This book is not only about Chinese women as some people might consider, since this book may seem to only serve as a shock factor. It only brings to light what happens not only in China but around the world. The fact that the Chinese culture is to simply hide all emotion makes the difference. This book is truly an inspiration and yet the sadness lies in the fact that the people who these stories unfortunately belong to probably no longer know the meaning of that word.
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79 of 82 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read! 17 Jun. 2003
An utterly compelling book, of the experiences of Chinese women, during the cultural revolution of China. No feminist ear bashing, the author communicates with incredible depth and clarity of feeling, the experiences of the women she knew. Not for the feint hearted, this book will stir deep emotion in you. The best book I have read in 20 years.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars There, but for the grace of God, go I. 22 May 2006
By DubaiReader VINE VOICE
Even allowing for the fact that Xinran has no doubt selected the worst, most harrowing stories, this is still an eye opening account of the suffering of many Chinese women.

I think what struck me most was how others would just stand and stare, feeling that a man beating his wife, for instance, was just 'keeping his house in order'.

Similarly, during the cultural revolution, people humiliated and abused for being intelectuals or owning foreign goods were seen to be getting what they deserved. Worse still, their children were also abused, often sexually, just because of who their parents were.

Women often had no control at all over their own lives; what a frightening thought.

Thank goodness things are changing now and womens lives are gradually improving. The first and largest step is for them to have a voice and I admire Xinran's efforts to help them in their cause.
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128 of 134 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreaking 26 Aug. 2003
Absolutely wonderful. Xinrans encounters with these incredible women are etched in my heart forever. The girl who kept a fly for a pet and the mothers who endured an earthquake broke my heart. Xinran has brought to life the experiences of many very different women during the chinese cultural revolution with such vibrancy that I can still hear and see them now, several weeks after reading the book. Unputdownable.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I've ever read 20 April 2007
The premise and the prologue are intriguing, and the rest of the book thoroughly delivers. Xinran Xue tells the stories of several women, as diverse in social and economic backgrounds as the country itself, who all have one thing in common: they have suffered. Whether bereavement, sexual abuse, discrimination or neglect, often more than one, Xinran weaves their experiences into a harrowing narrative with an underlying thread of love and sorrow. This book is an utterly devastating account of women's lives in China and must be read.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Living in modern times, it's hard to imaginie that there are still areas in the world where women suffer so badly... this book covers the stories Xinran has gleaned whilst working on her radio program since the 1970s (if I remember rightly... I've just lent my copy out). Besides the stories she tells of other women, she recounts how hard it was for her to fight for her own program to be aired in China. If nothing else, this slim paperback gives a brief glimpse into another world, and it's easy to think that it's from another time. It isn't. This happened 30 years ago, and that isn't far away.
I said to take your time reading the book, because parts of it will overwhelm you. It overwhelmed me. I'm Chinese by race, but a 2nd generation Malaysian citizen, and although I'm from a modern family and have not had to undergo any of the prejudices doled out to the females of a family, I have learnt through stories and traditions a bit of what the history of Chinese women are like. But that doesn't compare to what this book reveals. I've read many books which covers bad treatment of women in historic times, but this is where this book differs. This deals with now. It's shocking but true. I hope this will broaden your horizons.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Listen and wake up! 15 Sept. 2006
Xinran's written words are like spending time with a precious friend and hearing her confide painful life secrets to you. Xinran's pages are so alive, poignant and she astonished me with many details of situations we just take for granted in a western world. She writes factually with a warm narrative style of Chinese women's struggles with retaining their beliefs, moral values against the subjugation to communism. The length of each story/chapter is as long as you can bear because of the heartbreaking topic, which nonetheless is never a tear-jerker. In spite of the moving accounts of simple, sage, young and old women from all over China, her book is a real page turner - I read it from cover to cover in one day and carry her evocative portrayals in my daily thoughts. I enthusiastically recommend this book to any reader interested in the quality of life, woman's role, strength of survival and accounts of contemporary China.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very emotional and thought-provoking 24 April 2004
The true, life-stories of women in China's recent past that Xinranchronicles in this book are utterly unforgettable.
Far more than the social relevance that they have in informing us of thehistory of male and female relations in China - which in itself is ratherhumbling - these stories touch you with the unique humanity of each woman. They make you feel as if you personally have spoken to this individual,so great is your empathy.
I would agree with other reviewers here who have pointed out that thetales are rather selective and negative. I don't doubt that not all womenin China suffer as much as this book might make you think. Nevertheless,the strength and optimisim that these women show in the face of adversityis very inspiring.
No book could be exhaustive on such a huge subject as women in China, butthis book is an excellent starting point.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
UnbelievebleI am so pleased I live in Great Britain.
Published 1 month ago by Mrs Eva Davison
5.0 out of 5 stars Good
Good read
Published 1 month ago by Mr. M. Hodgson
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Bad
I was interested to read some of the negative reviews of this book. Criticisms of Xinran's condescending tone; her over-simplification of the stories; that they were... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Woolco
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I have toured China and have been caught up in their history and culture,Fascinating
Published 2 months ago by Norma Little
4.0 out of 5 stars I didn't think that people in China suffer so much
I didn't think that people in China suffer so much
Published 3 months ago by Mrs E.B.
5.0 out of 5 stars An illuminating and harrowing read, but well worthwhile. ...
An illuminating and harrowing read, but well worthwhile. Makes you wonder just how much of this applies to other societies too - even ours.
Published 5 months ago by Pudding
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very interestin
Published 5 months ago by Jacqui Matthews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent read
Published 6 months ago by Mrs Sherlie A Allen
5.0 out of 5 stars The Good woman Xinran
Amazing Xinran! If you are a fan, you cannot go wrong with this, if you are thinking about buying it, please do. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Grecossais
5.0 out of 5 stars very realistic
Very well written and an eye opener of revolution implication towards society as well individually. Despite it focuses on various stories experienced by many women's, it also... Read more
Published 9 months ago by CJ Saberina
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