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on 5 July 2016
I read this book around 20 years ago, so thought I'd treat myself to the audio version. Its just as heart-rending as the first time I read it.

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.
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on 5 August 2017
One of the best books I have ever read. Moving, fascinating and deeply informative. It's beautifully written and gives an insight into China before, during and after the cultural revolution through the true story of three women's lives. You will be gripped by this story as it's certainly no dry history but draws you in to their world. If you only read one book this year, read this one!
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on 22 October 2017
This has to be the most moving piece of literature I’ve read, and will stay with me for life. I came to Wild Swans having very little knowledge of China’s real political history, and having only really encountered references to foot-binding, the cult of Mao, etc., through fiction. Jung Chang’s family history, centring on three generations of women (her grandmother, her mother, and herself) is profoundly shocking in its brutal account of 20th century China and everyday life in the Communist Party. But what is perhaps even more shocking is her capacity to love and to forgive, in spite of the atrocities and all that is taken from her and her for family. Her dignity and her empathy remain in tact throughout, a truly remarkable achievement. I shed many tears whilst reading this book, and was incredibly moved when I heard Jung Chang speak on these subjects as part of the 2017 Beverley literature festival - I can only encourage people to read this courageous and powerful memoir, and pass on its ultimate message of hope and enduring love.
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on 19 July 2017
This is a book was very familiar so I think I had attempted to read it a some time ago. This time I read it all and would recommend it, there are some places where you think..i will skip a bit, it is lengthy, but when doing so found I had to go back as I had missed something relevant to the whole story.
To think we may never have been allowed to read it makes it even more worthwhile.
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on 14 October 2017
This is an extraordinary achievement. To write such a dignified, accurate and well reasoned account of China’s great transition to communism, through such personal family pain, is nothing but humbling. It requires more than a standard observation about a piece of literature and it’s relative merits. This author should feel completely blessed that she is the perfect blend of both her parents finest qualities. This is a reasoned and beautifully researched treatise of which her father would be immeasurably proud. Sometimes great minds can problem solve way in advance of the struggling masses of the population. In time, they catch them up.
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on 10 September 2017
This is my favourite book of all time. It is a collection human stories of hardship and survival against the changing backdrop of Chinese political history. It focuses on three generations of women and their families. Some of the subjects highlighted are harrowing but I think everyone should know about the reality of this fascinating country.
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on 5 June 2017
Fantastic and engaging, with a very personal writing style. But a little prone to distraction and tangents that seems to detour around the main story, sometimes it goes back to where it left off, sometimes it doesn't, so it's a little annoying when you're at a really juicy bit only to be flash-backed to who knows when.

I recommend not reading it as a history book, but as a diary retelling the experiences of the author, rather than that of the country.
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on 1 July 2016
I was absolutely blown away with this book. I have very little knowledge of China during the communist years and after seeing the author interviewed on tv decided to by the book. I am so glad I did, it's been a fantastic read and I now have a much better understanding of how twisted and brutal the Mao period was. I would highly recommend this book, it's ultimately a story of three generations of women and their families but it is much more than that. The book has sold 10's of millions of copies and I can understand why. Amazing.
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on 11 February 2016
A difficult read about a country turned against itself ... what happened then in China is happening now (2016) in Iraq with so-called ISIS and their Islamic caliphate.
For Mao, communism was in effect a religion - and all were subjected to the ruthless logic of its 'faith' - to the extend of entirely denying themselves as individuals.
As a manual of totalitarian oppression, torture, mind control and social re-engineering on a massive scale it is chilling. Even the usual human under-story is missing (of people making the best of it and being nice to each other) because it was systematically sought out and destroyed.

Mao was the ultimate abuser (modelled on Stalin), creating dependency of people who would come back for more - again and again - till they were destroyed.

Somewhere in North Korea now are many people who in years to come (I hope) will be free and able to write their own narrative of suffering.
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on 4 August 2016
This is one of my all time favourite books. I bought this for a friend as I didn't want to loan out my own older copy. She loves it too. A fantastic story that pulls out all sorts of emotions as you become so attached to the characters and the trials they go through during the changing face of China over the years. Highly recommended.
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