Book Beginnings: Wild Swans by Jung Chang

I’m currently reading Wild Swans by Jung Chang.

It begins:

At the age of fifteen my grandmother became the concubine of a warlord general, the police chief of a tenuous national government of China. The year was 1924 and China was in chaos. Much of it, including Manchuria, where my grandmother lived, was ruled by warlords. the liaison was arranged by her father, a police official in the provincial town of Xixian in southwest Manchuria, about a hundred miles north of the Great Wall and 250 miles northeast of Peking.

Wild Swans is a family memoir – the story of three generations of woman in Jung Chang’s family – her grandmother, mother and herself. This is the 2003 edition with an introduction by Jung Chang explaining how she came to write the book. She had always dreamed of being a writer, but growing up in Mao’s China it seemed out of the question, with most writers suffering in endless police persecutions. It was only after she had been allowed to come to Britain in 1978 to study that she had the freedom to write and to write what she wanted.

So far, I’m finding it fascinating, reading about her grandmother, who was one of the last generation of Chinese woman to suffer the practice of binding feet. I knew of this practice, but hadn’t realised just how much the little girls suffered and continued to suffer throughout their lives.

As this book is so long (over 600 pages in a small font) it’s going to take me quite a while to read it. I’l probably write a few posts on my progress.

First Chapter, First Paragraph is hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea.

15 thoughts on “Book Beginnings: Wild Swans by Jung Chang

  1. I loved this book even though it was sometimes hard to read about the horrible conditions under the Cultural Revolution. I remember spending the next couple of years looking for and reading as much as I could on Chinese history, culture, and people. What an amazing country it is. Have you read anything by Jan Wong? She is a Canadian journalist who also writes about her Chinese heritage and present day China.


  2. We read “Wild Swans” in our book group. It was a great discussion. You’ll be amazed how many times you’ll think back to it when something about China comes up.


  3. I like what I read and would read this book, but not this time of year too busy for 600+ pages. Thanks for joining in this week.


  4. I loved this, and the picture in painted of China, not only in the time of Jung Chang’s grandmother, but during the cultural revolution when her parents were young and their dream of a better life turned sour. I thought it was very moving.


  5. Margaret – Oh, that does sound fascinating! I find China so interesting to read about, and that historical perspective is a draw for me.


  6. Pingback: Wild Swans by Jung Chang | BooksPlease

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