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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 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 27 August 2017
A personal account of the author's childhood and formative years under Mao's tyranny, and the background of her grandmother and Mother. It makes fascinating reading, and I'm aware the factual recounting of the horrors were glossed over. I can imagine the constant anxiety, the continuous denunciations, and the terrible pains the family underwent. We in the West can't begin to understand the levels of violent hatred deliberately incited by Mao and his cohorts, yet many of us still appear to believe he achieved wonders. Perhaps he did some good, but he did a lot more evil, all in his quest to be viewed as a Saviour.
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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 20 February 2017
What a great read.

An amazing (and awful) story told superbly. The hopes, fears and agonies of the three women at the heart of this book paint a picture of 20th century that grasps your attention from page 1 and doesn't let go for another 700 pages as the developing lunacy of Mao's reign, from the Great Leap Forward through the Cultural Evolution, causes havoc and heartache for the Chinese people. The book combines to great effect the big picture and the small details of life so we can get some appreciation of how people lived during those dreadful times.
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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 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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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 7 November 2012
I'm Hong Kong born but was raised in England, so I never learnt the history of China. I always had an interest in history as I've heard many stories from my grandmother about how terrible life was when the Japanese occupied Hong Kong. She told me how because of food shortages and starvation, people were resorting to cannibalism and selling "meat" on the black market. I didn't believe it at the time, but I know now that what she says is true!

Jung Chang uses the biography of her grandmother and mother to describe the real, explicit history of China. It tells the story of how the Chinese people suffered through decades of inhumane treatment in the hands of their fellow countrymen as directed by Chairman Mao. This you understand, was all in the interest of self-preservation - if you didn't torture someone, someone will torture you! During the worst of the Communist years, neighbour turned on neighbour, families were torn apart and torture, beatings and illegal detention was part of everyday life.

The saddest part for me was when Jung Chang described how her father was savagely beaten by a group of men in one of his many denunciation meetings. Jung's father was a proud man who always refused to succumb to his tormentors. He never once moaned in his previous beatings, but on this occasion, he was beaten so badly he cried out in agony and had to be taken to hospital by his family. He was then refused treatment because he wasn't authorised.

The way Jung describes her parents brought tears to my eyes on many occasions as it always made me think of my parents and how lucky we are.

Thank you Jung Chang, for an insightful life lesson through the eyes of your family and for giving the other half of the world an appreciation of how the Chinese people suffered under the reign of the Communists.
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