An interesting imagining of the human side of Madame Mao, infamous power-mad wife of Mao Tse-Tung and leader of China's notorious Gang of Four which was responsible for some of worst turmoil of Cultural Revolution. Switching back and forth between paragraphs, the narrative alternates between two points of view: the third-person and her first-person "autobiographical" memoir, documenting her flaws, strengths, vanities, paranoia, weaknesses, and yearnings which colored her journey from humble origins, to frustrated wannabe actress, to Chairman Mao's scheming, manipulative, long-suffering wife. It's essentially a different take on the quintessential tale of the typical 20th century Western housewife who sacrifices her own dreams, ambitions, and life in order for her husband to succeed - only to be discarded later for a younger, sexier model - however, in this case, was then able to manipulate her way to power and exact revenge on an unimaginable scale.
Which is why I was surprised that more often than not, it felt like sitting through a somewhat dry, pedantic seminar on modern Chinese history.
Overall, though, a worthwhile read.
Sort of a Chinese historical romance. Author changes from 1st person to 3rd person. I found it quite enjoyable.
Good Story but an not crazy about the author's writing style.
From the best-selling author of Red Azalea, this extraordinary novel tells the stirring, erotically charged story of Madame Mao Zedong, the woman almost universally known as the "white-boned demon," whom many hold directly responsible for the excesses of the Cultural Revolution.
An interesting entry in the fiction emerging from China's long sleep, as expat nationals and dissidents begin to chronicle the events that the Western world has not seen. A worthy read, and certainly a believable look into the psychology of Madame Mao, this book spans the decades from the late 1920's through the '70's, and paints a picture of a woman lost who claws her way into the attention she so desperately craves. No way to know if it is a truthful account of her but no reason to believe it is not.
This is the story of a woman whose warped personality and ambition is stymied at times but, nevertheless, pushes her to the top of the political pyramid when she marries Chairman Mao. The author gives us Madame Mao's words, layered with her own comments about what is true and what is not. Madame Mao is vindictive, unforgiving for the most part, but loves Chairman Mao most of the time. I'm not sure I understood this woman and I certainly disliked her. She is insecure unless she is in control of what is happening to her. She views herself as an actress, preferably the leading lady, which puts her in the limelight. However, I couldn't help wondering how anyone living in this period could survive with their own values intact. No wonder a woman would have trouble surviving in such an political climate. It's a revealing read and quite well done.
"In a sweeping, erotically charged story that moves gracefully from the intimately personal to the great stage of world history, Anchee Min renders a powerful tale of passion, betrayal, and survival and creates a finely nuanced portrait of one of the most fascinating women of the twentieth century."