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Bittersweet
     

Bittersweet

5.0 1
by Leslie Li
 

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Bittersweet tells the life story of Li Xuewen, wife of the first democratically elected vice president of China, who began her life as the unwanted fourth daughter of a peasant farmer and rose in prestige and fortune to become the number one wife of a brilliant military hero. Her story reveals a scope of history and changes in Chinese culture that few Westerners have

Overview

Bittersweet tells the life story of Li Xuewen, wife of the first democratically elected vice president of China, who began her life as the unwanted fourth daughter of a peasant farmer and rose in prestige and fortune to become the number one wife of a brilliant military hero. Her story reveals a scope of history and changes in Chinese culture that few Westerners have glimpsed. Inspired by the events of her grandmother's life, the author engages the reader in an engrossing novel about love and war, and the indomitable spirit of a woman determined to keep her family and self-respect intact.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
First novelist Li transforms the eventful life of her Chinese grandmother Li Xiuwen--who was born in 1889 and became the wife of Li Zongren, a major political figure in modern China--into an appealing story. Interpolating fresh historical research, Li describes the century of vital change that her protagonist, called Bittersweet, witnessed: an era that stretched from the end of the empire to the tragedy of the Tiananmen Square massacre. At age 19, farm girl Bittersweet marries Delin, a nationalist commander who will become China's first elected vice president and acting president for his wily ``sworn brother'' Chiang Kai-shek. Schooled in Taoist acceptance by a monk whose pure love sustains her throughout many troubles, Bittersweet endures the anguish of being permanently displaced in her husband's affection by his westernized second wife. Against a setting of war and political turmoil, Li spins a fascinating chronicle of female subservience, in which wedding and birth customs, infanticide and the cruel rivalries between wifely ``battalions'' all come vividly alive. Expository digressions sometimes impede the narrative flow, as does the hasty wrap-up, which details Bittersweet's sojourn in America and her return to China, but seasoned journalist Li largely succeeds in recasting factual material into an engrossing novel. (Oct.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780804830362
Publisher:
Tuttle Publishing
Publication date:
09/15/1994
Pages:
398
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.78(h) x 1.09(d)

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Bittersweet 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The story of Li Xiuwen intrigued me. It was wonderful- it took me through Chinese history and culture and taught me things i never would have learned in school (i'm a highschool senior; i read this book last year). I'd urge anyone i've ever met or will meet to read this book- it's got a story for everyone, no matter what your interests are. If you like to read about history, it's great; if you like to read about China, it's great; if you like to read about society and women, it's great; if you like to read about culture, it's great. My only pitty is that i've been unable to find a copy of the book that li xiuwen, herself, wrote. i'm sure it's even better, if you're lucky enough to come across it.