Dream of the Walled City

Dream of the Walled City

Lisa Huang Fleischman

Language: English

Pages: 448

ISBN: 0671042297

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


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.
Dream of the Walled City
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.

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here, without you, with all these quarrelsome relatives who hate each other. You leave it to me to manage an impossible situation, and to feed you at all hours of the day and night, whenever you choose to come home, and when I cannot perform like a trained monkey you are angry.” He came toward me then, to place a comforting hand on my shoulder, but I ran upstairs away from him. When I came back down, he had left for the governor’s palace, leaving his noon meal uneaten on the table. I was sick

to live with you, then he can only see her on the side. Maybe the difficulties of having you still in Kunming will break up the affair.” “Nothing will break up this affair,” my sister groaned miserably. “Nothing. Only his sense of duty keeps him with me. He says he will never abandon me or stop supporting me.” By now it was raining heavily. I gazed out at the storm, the wind whipping my damp skirts. I thought again about how protective Mo Chi had been toward Graceful Virtue from the beginning,

their orchard.” And she told me about her meeting with Cho the landlord. “It’s just an orchard. Cho the landlord is a very low person. He used to be a barber until he made money.” “Have you no sense? The Pans are not barbers or salt dealers or blacksmiths. They do not make money from anything except their land. And now that land is going. Cho may be, as you say, a low person—and it is they who have taught you to speak this way—but now he has the orchard and you do not. It is not the first piece

pass through the streets of the area without pausing. Then half the city seemed to be running past, shouting and waving fists in the air, trouser legs and banners snapping in the rush. The big banners, held aloft on bamboo poles, dipped perilously back and forth as the banner men ran, and the poles scraped along the top of the walls that guarded the Pans from the street. A red banner caught momentarily on the broken glass that was cemented along the top of the wall, before it was ripped away. I

San Francisco. I thought that maybe it would be years before another letter came. This one had already been six months old—was the brother still a laundryman? Still in San Francisco? Still above ground? I hoped the brother would always write. I had a momentary vision of my white-haired self, years from now, reading the eighth or ninth letter in the sequence to the same villagers, now all bent with age, and to young men who had been born since the brother’s departure and knew of him only through

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