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3.4 out of 5 stars17
3.4 out of 5 stars
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on 9 January 2007
Having read empress orchid, and really enjoying it, i decided to also read becoming madame mao, and was disappointed to find the writing style and story telling completely different. Although a fascinating story, i found that half way through the book, i wasn't too bothered about finishing it.

It's definitely worth a read if you want to learn more about the history of china from a different perspective, but considering the life madame mao led, its made to sound much duller than it could have been written, even when following the facts.
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on 17 October 2003
A beautifully crafted novel that uncovers the barely known, myth like first-lady of China, Jiang Chian - the wife of Chairman Mao through his period of power.
Looking through her eyes, this ficticious biography offers an insight on how she got her reputation as a hard faced lover of torture and war, it also offers a different view than any other Mao biography, essay or book. To watch Madame Mao play her role through each act in her life is to follow Mao's success and her downfall.
A great idea for a novel is transformed into a spectacular biography. The story has a strong use of chinese poetry the whole way through it, giving a romantic and genuine feel to it.
(...)
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on 15 January 2013
A fascinating insight into the woman who was married to Chairman Mao. The descriptions of her life, and her thoughts, both of herself and others was intriguing and very interesting. The book was beautifully written, and really drew in the reader. There were just enough hints of how this woman would turn out, but at the same time making one feel some sympathy for her. An excellent read for those interested in modern history.
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on 1 August 2011
Although I alwasy enjoy books set in China, I don't really know much about Chinese recent history and so I didn't know whether this book was puporting to be "based" on Jiang Ching's life or not. However, I really enjoyed reading this book. I was gripped all the way through, which surprised me given how easy it is to dislike the titular character. In fact, even though the book is not written in sympathy with Jiang Ching and she does some terrible things, by the end it is hard not to feel sorry for her. Fascinating.
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on 15 April 2014
The Mao era of communist China is a difficult one to get under the skin of, to understand exactly what was going on and what the people at the centre of policy and rule really thought. Anchee Min tries to do that with this book though, tackling Chairman Mao’s wife. The author delves into how Jiang Qing moved from acting and the stage to becoming a key and controversial figure who played a major role in the Cultural Revolution. There’s little dialogue and the narration switches between first and third person, which takes a little while to get used to. But, overall, Anchee Min’s portrayal of Madame Mao is interesting and believable – and since this is a novel rather than academic history, that’s the main thing she set out to do.
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on 26 August 2007
Initially i thought this was based on the real life of Mao's third wife. However, after reading Mao's true story this story is more fiction based ad very different (i suppose Mao biography is more in depth and demonstrates every small detail). I still enjoyed reading this story, as i took it as a story and not as Mao's true story.

This is the story of Jiang Chang Mao wife who supported him and helped in his success. She only felt the need to do this when her marriage to Mao was coming towards the end. She her self went through many relationships to proof her worth to her last husband and to China. This is a story of a lady who went through many difficulties to reach her destination and become Mao's wife.

This is a great story that is worth reading. If you are genuinely into the Chinese culture then this is another book that is worth reading and capturing more of the culture through stories inspired by the history of China and its legends.
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on 24 September 2011
whilst this book is a good story. I found the way the dialogue goes from one person to another without realising it, it made some of the reading hard work. It also goes from present to past, without a break, so you are not sure just where you are in history.It does give an insight to Madame Mao, but you do need to read it carefully.
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on 11 September 2007
Fascinating story about Mao's wife. It is well written, and connects to the history of China very well. It is an interesting portrait of an interesting woman and I am very happy to have read it - and I would read it again. The political descriptions and discussions in the book are however sometimes to long, especially when compared to other books by Anchee Min. I assume that this has to do with who Madame Mao was and what she left behind in regards to eye witnesses, notes etc.

Anchee Min has a way of weaving stories using a lot of "real" facts which she successfully mix with fantasy, a fatastic skill to have an an author.

I will read more by Anchee Min, but "Becoming Madame Mao" is not her strongest book - or Madame Mao was a more difficult person to base a story on perhaps? I believe that the more you know about the history of China, the more interesting this book becomes though. Unfortunately a lot of history - books, documents and so forth - were of course destroyed under the "Cultural Revolution" in China in the late 60-ies, early 70-ties. Has the manipulation of history manipulated Madame Mao's background as well? One can't help but wondering...
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on 13 July 2013
Interesting book but I don't like the way it is wrtiten, jumping from first to third person sometimes in same paragraph. Also difficult sometimes to know who is speaking, and irritating to read as there are no spaces between sentences.
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on 2 August 2013
I couldn't get along with the style of writing at all, flipping between the first and third person, and I simply couldn't engage with the title character at all. Gave up about half way through. I prefer to enjoy what I'm reading.
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