Daughters of the Flower Fragrant Garden: Two Sisters Separated by China’s Civil War

Norton. Jun. 2022. 368p. ISBN 9780393541779. $27.95. HIST
Li (East Asian studies, Brown Univ.) steps outside of her usual academic realm to share the intimate story of her two great aunts and their experience through the Chinese Civil War. The sisters came from an affluent background and enjoyed a blissful childhood until the tides of Chinese society began to turn in the late 1920s. Soon these two sisters found themselves on opposite sides of the conflict—one a doctor in Maoist China and the other on the sidelines of government support in Taiwan. Will they ever be able to reunite? Or has too much tragedy besieged them? This historical biography adds to the oeuvre of similar works (Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister and Wild Swans, both by Jung Chang) but is no less intriguing, as it’s only since recently that these stories can be told with the dignity and honesty they deserve. Cinematic in scope, each sister goes through parallel epic sagas that are sure to entrance the reader.
VERDICT A wonderful addition to any library that will appeal to a wide audience interested in historical narrative, Chinese history, family dynamics, and generally as a story of struggle against the odds.
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