Days of Sorrow, Times of Joy: The Story of a Victorian Family and its Love Affair with China Paperback – 28 Jun 2016
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"An extraordinary story of an extraordinary family" Michael Wood, Historian and Broadcaster "Readers of this impressive and enjoyable book will surely remember the vivid scenes in which one family's commitment enabled its members to play a part in events that have helped to shape our world" Professor Anthony Bradley "This family story is interwoven with the grand picture of modern Chinese history. There are dramatic first hand insights into the sufferings of the Chinese people between the late 19th century and the Second World War. The family letters conjure up the tension of the Boxer Rising and the electric atmosphere in Hankow as the revolutionaries of 1911 begin the final awful chapter of the fall of the empire after more than 2000 years; all the more poignant with Tom's moving hopes at that moment for a new China. There are graphic glimpses of the civil conflicts and rural risings in the twenties, and then the Japanese occupation in the thirties, the 'perfect storm' which gave rise to the communist revolution. The family lived through all of this, experiencing it close up: the killings in the streets, the looting and burning of their own Hankow, when China was forced to 'drink deep' of the cup of suffering' as US journalist Theodore H White wrote." Michael Wood, Historian and Broadcaster
About the Author
Author Fran Clemmow was born in Hankow (now Wuhan) and lived there until the age of six when the family came home on furlough and she and her sister were sent to boarding school in England. There followed six years of family separation when her parents returned to China, which included a period of internment by the Japanese. She brings insight and integrity to this amazing tale of a most unusual family.
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The book is very well written with a lot of photos and images within the text. There is also a very helpful map and family tree in the front - both essential to keep track of the numerous family members and the locations in China, many of which have different names nowadays.
As well as being a fascinating account of one family's history it also gives the reader first-hand insight into many key events in world history including the Boer War in South Africa and the Chinese Revolution of 1911.
The author's grandmother, Bessie Gillison, nee Harris, qualified in medicine in 1892 at a time when women were not allowed to take degrees in most places. Cambridge only allowed women to take degrees in 1948, 28 years behind Oxford who allowed them to do so in 1920. Bessie was fortunate to be at the more forward-thinking Edinburgh School of Medicine.
A remarkable story about a remarkable family. I am now inspired to read 'Cross and the Dragon' by Keith Gillison, the author's father.
Many first hand medical and historical accounts through letters make it seem that you are living with the people in the book.
Well written and sensitively laid out
Dr Angela (GP)
It is a very personal tale and I enjoyed the book all the more for that, finding it to be exactly as it promises: remarkable, evocative and affecting.