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Dream of the Walled Cityby Lisa Huang Fleischman
Synopses & Reviews
Marking the debut of a stunning new literary talent, Lisa Huang Fleischman's extraordinary saga — inspired by her grandmother's life as an early feminist, political activist, and friend of Mao Zedong — is a masterpiece about one clever and resourceful woman, growing up amidst the turmoil of twentieth-century China.
Born in 1890, the privileged and sheltered daughter of a high-ranking imperial official, Jade Virtue spends her childhood enclosed by the towering walls of her family's sprawling mansion, never glimpsing the desperate struggle of China's ancient society, as the old ways are challenged and the twentieth century — fast, fearsome, and tumultuous — rushes in. But when her father mysteriously dies, young Jade Virtue is suddenly thrust into poverty, and experiences firsthand a traditional culture falling apart under the onslaught of growing rebellion against the Emperor, rapid social changes, and the mounting aggression of Japan and the West.
Fleischman has rendered a richly textured, panoramic vision of Chinese life in the perilous years between the end of the empire and the Communist triumph of 1949, charting Jade Virtue's arranged first marriage to the corrupt opium addict Wang Mang, who harbors a terrible secret in his family's past; her awakening independence and ambivalent politics; her struggles with motherhood; and her fascinating acquaintance with a gifted, idealistic, fiercely ambitious young man named Mao Zedong. But the most important choices of her life are shaped by her conflicting loyalties to her intense lifelong friendship with Jinyu, a fiery woman revolutionary, and to Guai, a government official and sworn enemy of the Communists, with whom she finally discovers true and redemptive love.
Exquisitely nuanced and lyrical yet marked with a driving power, Dream Of The Walled City is an enthralling novel of hard-won personal independence set against the vivid backdrop of a rapidly changing world. From the final days of the last dynasty through the savage Japanese invasion during World War II to the formidable red dawn of the Communist triumph; from the backward rural province of Hunan to exile on the tropical shores of Taiwan; and from the binding chains of predetermined fate to the exhilarating liberation of a human spirit, this is a remarkable odyssey you will never forget.
"It is difficult to believe Dream Of The Walled City is Fleischman's first novel; so vivid are the characters, so inspiring is the tale. She takes the reader on an unforgettable journey of survival and at the same time offers an important history lesson — both in an engrossing page-turner that is nearly impossible to abandon even for a moment." The Oakland Press
"This novel gives a very real sense of China's complicated and tumultuous history during the first half of the twentieth century." Booklist
"Compelling, full of action and emotion...." Library Journal
"A work of evocative beauty....Fleischman portrays characters, relationships, and actions with an illuminating sensitivity. She understands not just human nature, but also the human heart. Consequently, one learns more about history from such a work than from a book of facts and figures." Winston-Salem Journal
"Earnest and emotionally astute....A sweeping historical novel." Publishers Weekly
"Dream Of The Walled City is a lovingly crafted work of historical fiction inspired by the life of the author's grandmother. Fleischman has successfully depicted a fascinating Chinese woman who is trapped but not defeated by the parameters of her life in a tumultuous society." Andrew X. Pham, author of Catfish and Mandala
"What is most remarkable about Lisa Huang Fleischman's Dream Of The Walled City Is that even in the midst of a saga of such breathtaking scope, she has succeeded in keeping this an intimate tale. We care about Jade Virtue, and care about her life and love and ambitions and sorrows." Bret Lott, author of Jewel
"Exhilarating and powerful....Lisa Huang Fleischman has given us the story of smart, bold women at a pivotal point in China's history. Finally, we get to see through a woman's eyes the heart of a revolution." Phoebe Eng, author of Warrior Lessons: An Asian American Woman's Journey into Power
About the Author
Lisa Huang Fleischman was born in Taipei, Taiwan, to a Chinese mother and an American father, and speaks Mandarin Chinese. She spent her early childhood in Asia and Africa, until her family moved to the United States. In 1989, during a visit to China, she took part in the Tiananmen Square student protests. She graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and Columbia Law School, and is now a federal prosecutor in New York.
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