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Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China Paperback – 5 Apr 2004
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‘It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of this book.’ Mary Wesley
‘Mesmerising.’ Antonia Fraser, The Times
‘Everything about “Wild Swans” is extraordinary. It arouses all the emotions, such as pity and terror, that great tragedy is supposed to evoke, and also a complex mixture of admiration, despair and delight at seeing a luminous intelligence directed at the heart of darkness.’ Minette Marrin, Sunday Telegraph
‘Immensely moving and unsettling; an unforgettable portrait of the brain-death of a nation.’ J. G. Ballard, Sunday Times
‘“Wild Swans” made me feel like a five-year-old. This is a family memoir that has the breadth of the most enduring social history.’ Martin Amis, Independent on Sunday
'Riveting…an extraordinary epic.' Mail on Sunday
‘Of all the personal histories to have emerged out of China’s twentieth-century nightmare, “Wild Swans” is the most deeply thoughtful and the most heart-rending I’ve read.’ Spectator
‘There has never been a book like this.’ Edward Behr, Los Angeles Times
A new edition of one of the best-selling and best-loved books of recent years, with a new introduction by the author. The publication of Wild Swans in 1991 was a worldwide phenomenon. Not only did it become the best-selling non-fiction book in British publishing history, with sales of well over two million, it was received with unanimous critical acclaim, and was named the winner of the 1992 NCR Book Award and the 1993 British Book of the Year Award. Few books have ever had such an impact on their readers. Through the story of three generations of women -- grandmother, mother and daughter -- Wild Swans tells nothing less than the whole tumultuous history of China's tragic twentieth century, from sword-bearing warlords to Chairman Mao, from the Manchu Empire to the Cultural Revolution. At times terrifying, at times astonishing, always deeply moving, Wild Swans is a book in a million, a true story with all the passion and grandeur of a great novel. For this new edition, Jung Chang has written a new introduction, bringing her own story up to date, and describing the effect Wild Swans' success has had on her life.See all Product description
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It takes a slice of social & political history, in the way that Charles Dickens did with "A Tale of Two Cities", and Alexandre Dumas with his books. You see it through the prism of three generations of a family (hence, 'three daughters of China').
The grandmother had her feet bound and was given by her father as a concubine (to further his career!); the mother (and father) suffered the brunt of recriminations during Mao's 'Cultural Revolution' (spectacular falls from grace), and the daughter finally left China (as an adult) on an English scholarship, and later settled in London.
Rowena Cooper has a beautiful voice - it reminds me of listening to Eleanor Bron's reading of "A Little Princess".
Highly, highly recommended.
To think we may never have been allowed to read it makes it even more worthwhile.
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