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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Certain to generate debates about custody and culture
A true cautionary tale for any romantics abroad who believe that exotic intrigue is enough to sustain an interracial marriage, Good Chinese Wife will wrench hearts as much as it will enrage readers on both sides of the gender debate.

Susan Blumberg-Kason is a shy, frizzy-haired American exchange student in Hong Kong, where she meets an attractive Chinese...
Published 4 months ago by Thomas Carter

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read but one can't help but think wake ...
An interesting read but one can't help but think wake up and smell the coffee. The man gets away with murder and she should have left him after a few months not a few years.
Published 2 months ago by eliotjw


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Certain to generate debates about custody and culture, 29 July 2014
By 
Thomas Carter (Beijing, China) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
A true cautionary tale for any romantics abroad who believe that exotic intrigue is enough to sustain an interracial marriage, Good Chinese Wife will wrench hearts as much as it will enrage readers on both sides of the gender debate.

Susan Blumberg-Kason is a shy, frizzy-haired American exchange student in Hong Kong, where she meets an attractive Chinese scholar ten years her senior. Waltzing their nights away in dance halls, the previously married Cai doesn't waste time. "In China couples traditionally date only if they plan to marry."

Susan's insecurity, which is her biggest folly, gets the best of her, and gets hitched, simply so "I'd no longer worry about whether he'd still want to meet me every night."

The realities of marrying into China, however, become apparent during a visit to Wuhan to meet her in-laws. "Kids don't learn anything until they are five. The baby can stay with us, for several years," her new "mama" exclaims. Cai's true colors are also soon revealed: he prefers to watch porn on their honeymoon instead of consummate their marriage, and play cards with pals in their underwear instead of spend time with his new wife.

Feeling "like a lowly daughter-in-law in a Chinese backwater town," Susan persuades Cai to relocate to San Francisco, where they conceive a son. Flying in the in-laws proves to be a mistake, and the ensuing childcare differences (force feeding; four layers of clothes indoors) will resonate with Westerners considering breeding with the Chinese.

Cai becomes increasingly sullen and verbally abusive ("No meaning, no anything here," he huffs. "I thought you had a wife and son here," Susan responds, to which he snaps "You're so lucky I don't hit you.").

Wishing he'd go back to China only fuels her paranoia that, if he actually does, Cai will take their son with him ("China hasn't signed the Hague Convention," a lawyer warns). Susan's grand finale "escape" will leave women readers woot-woot!'ing aloud - and fathers instinctively gritting their teeth.

It's hard to be critical of an intensely personal memoir such as this, but the authoress offers little self-examination other than the occasional "was my tone too harsh?", nor any insight into Cai's perspective except his outbursts: "I know what American wives are like. I also know what Chinese wives are like. And then there's you!" And Susan's final musing that "I was abandoning him in a country he didn't like, taking away his son, and leaving him with a house, two cars and no way to pay the mortgage or other bills" could also come across as vindictive rather than remorseful.

Good Chinese Wife is a fascinating read for anyone suffering a dose of yellow fever and contains topical issues that are certain to generate heated debates about custody and cultural differences. Yet one wonders if Susan and Cai might have made it work had they remained on Hong Kong's east-west cultural middle ground, where they met, without the pressure of the Mainland's blind filial piety or the influence of divorce-happy Americans.

###
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An eye-opener, 31 July 2014
By 
Amanda Jenkinson "MandyJ" (Cheltenham) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Good Chinese Wife: A Love Affair with China Gone Wrong (Kindle Edition)
When the author met a handsome Chinese man whilst studying in Hong Kong and he asked her to marry him, she thought all her dreams had come true. For the next 5 years, in China and in the US, she did all she could to be a Good Chinese Wife. But ultimately the dream turned sour and the cultural differences between the couple, plus her husband’s extremely selfish behaviour, meant she was forced to make the difficult decision to leave the marriage.
This is a frank and painfully honest account of a cross-cultural marriage and should be on the reading list of anyone hoping that love conquers all in such relationships. The author’s account of her efforts to accept the Chinese cultural norms insisted on by Cai and his family is both perceptive and a real eye-opener. The final part of the book felt as nerve-racking as any thriller as Susan makes her escape. She also raises the complex questions about parental rights and international law, which affect so many mixed marriages. There’s an object lesson to be learnt in this wonderfully compelling book, as well as a very human story to be found.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wow what a fantastic ore inspiring page turner, 20 Aug 2014
This review is from: Good Chinese Wife: A Love Affair with China Gone Wrong (Kindle Edition)
This was a beautifully written book which told the story of a young girls life from being a post graduate student studying in Hong Kong to being a mother who leaves her marriage because her Chinese husband isn’t being supportive, which is why I would give it 5 stars & recommend it to other people.

It was a fascinating book because it enabled you to learn about Chinese culture and beliefs and how they can sometimes not mesh very well with western beliefs and customs. Although even taking that into account Cai did do so really nasty things even to their baby son, including threatening to send him back to China for his mother to raise him.

I also loved how Susan finally made the decision to Leave Cai finally when she got some legal advice about what would happen if Jacob was taken back to China against her wishes and found out that she likely wouldn’t be able to get him back. It was fantastic to see the light to ignite in her and made her make the decision to not to just leave Cai but to leave him that weekend, along with her son and with her mothers help to do it.

It was also very interesting to see how Cai reacted to the letter and the fact that Susan had left him because rather than getting really angry and detached as he usually would have done he actually was really upset, & heartbroken. But then following her leaving and their Divorce he rarely saw their son, no more than twice a year. However that was still more regular than how often he saw his daughter from his first Marriage.

I loved the fact that a chance meeting between two young people at University led to a marriage and the birth of a much wanted child, then to a separation and divorce.
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4.0 out of 5 stars When two cultures collide ..., 13 Aug 2014
This review is from: Good Chinese Wife: A Love Affair with China Gone Wrong (Kindle Edition)
As someone who has straddled two cultures for her whole life and for whom Hong Kong is a second home, I jumped on the chance to read this book. After all, what better way to gain an insight into the difficulties arising from the marriage of two cultures than to read what happened when it doesn’t work.

Well, I think it’s fair to say that after reading this, I know to be extremely wary of any man from the mainland China provinces who offers me his hand in marriage!

This story was painful in a lot of respects – the author doesn’t hold back from revealing the extent of her naivety but for someone who is not blinded by love, you can’t help but ask yourself how on earth did Susan end up marrying someone she barely knew who already had one failed marriage and an estranged daughter under his belt? And the paid-per-view movie on their wedding night? That would have had me running for an annulment for sure! And why anyone would think that a guy who gave you an STD and then denies knowing anything about how you could have got it, would make a good father to a child is beyond me!

Whilst I started this book for the Hong Kong aspect, where the book really got interesting is when Susan and Cai moved to San Francisco. Seeing Susan make excuses for Cai’s failure to get a job and settle into life in America was disquieting at times but it was interesting to see the different dynamic that both sets of parents brought to the family when they came to stay.

I won’t go into detail about how the book ends but needless to say thankfully Susan does get her happy ending but no, it isn’t with Cai. I do have to admire her for not letting her bad experience put her off and having the faith and trust to try marriage a second time.

Finally, three life lessons this book can teach you:

1. You know you’re not going to get your happy ever after when your new husband watches porn on your wedding night
2. Don’t even consider starting a family with a man who gave you an STD
3. It’s time to get out of there when you’re expected not to wash for a month after childbirth / your parents-in-law move in to nag / your husband complains that your job pays too little despite not working himself / your husband dangles your crying baby over a staircase

Book: 4*

Cover: 4*
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3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read but one can't help but think wake ..., 24 Oct 2014
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This review is from: Good Chinese Wife: A Love Affair with China Gone Wrong (Kindle Edition)
An interesting read but one can't help but think wake up and smell the coffee. The man gets away with murder and she should have left him after a few months not a few years.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I really enjoyed this, 21 July 2014
By 
Julia Flyte - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
Moral: Don't marry men from other countries and cultures whom you have only know a short time.

Susan Blumberg-Kason grew up in suburban Chicago and from an early age was fascinated by China. After graduating from college in the US, she seizes the opportunity to do a Masters degree in Hong Kong. There the somewhat shy and sheltered student meets a handsome Chinese boy called Cai. After only a few months he proposes, warning her almost immediately afterwards that sometimes he can lose his temper but it will only be temporary. Naive and in love, Susan determines to be the warm, soft, good Chinese wife that her husband wants her to be.

However almost immediately there are strains in the marriage as Cai puts his needs ahead of hers at every turn. For the most part Susan makes excuses for his behaviour and tries her best to keep him happy. When she does resist even mildly, he loses his temper and then refuses to speak to her, sometimes for days at a time. Once they have a child together, the stakes get higher and Susan realizes that she needs to stand up for herself once and for all.

I really enjoyed this book which gives a fascinating perspective of China in the mid 1990s. It's extremely readable and even when I wasn't reading it I found myself thinking about it. Susan takes us through her story in such a way that you feel you really understand what she was thinking and feeling and why she behaved as she did. She doesn't shy away from events that don't show her in a positive light and it's clear that they both had a part to play in the marriage's problems - although she puts up with a great deal more than I ever could. After I finished the book I discovered the author's website where you can see some some photographs taken at the time.

I received an advance copy of this book for review through Net Galley.
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