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Falling Leaves Return to Their Roots
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About the Author

Adeline Yen Mah took studied at London Univesity and now lives in the USA. "My Chinese Cinderella. Her father's stunningly beautiful new young wife makes Snow White's wicked stepmother look like Mary Poppins. A compelling story.' - The Mail.

Reviews

This dramatic autobiography by a writer and doctor begins with the reading of a will that mystifies, then flashes back to recount events in a truly unpleasant family of seven brothers and sisters, a cruel French-Chinese stepmother, and a rich, uncaring father. In 1937, Adeline's mother died giving birth to her in Tienjin, marking her forever as bad luck. The family moved to Shanghai, then Hong Kong, with trips to Monte Carlo, London, and, finally, California for Adeline. In the meantime, with World War II, the Communist takeover in 1949, Maoism, the Cultural Revolution, and the return of Hong Kong to mainland China. Mostly, however, rivalries, jealousies, injustice, neglect, conniving, backbiting, and betrayal dominate this family. An intriguing tale, though it says less about China than about one particular Chinese family; for contemporary China collections.‘Kitty Chen Dean, Nassau Coll., Garden City, N.Y.

Although the focus of this memoir is the author's struggle to be loved by a family that treated her cruelly, it is more notable for its portrait of the domestic affairs of an immensely wealthy, Westernized Chinese family in Shanghai as the city evolved under the harsh strictures of Mao and Deng. Yen Mah's father knew how to make money and survive, regardless of the regime in power. In addition to an assortment of profitable enterprises, he stashed away two tons of gold in a Swiss bank, and eventually the family fled to Hong Kong. But he was indifferent to his seven children and in the thrall of a second wife who makes Cinderella's stepmother seem angelic. His first wife, Yen Mah's mother, died at her birth, and the child, considered an ill omen, was treated with crushing severity. But she was encouraged by the love of an aunt and eventually made her way to the U.S., where she became a doctor, married happily and, ironically, was the one her father and stepmother turned to in their old age. In recounting this painful tale, Yen Mah's unadorned prose is powerful, her insights keen and her portrait of her family devastating. (Mar.)

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