Sometimes I am hopelessly behind the times in my reading and travelling for the last three years has limited my ability to amass a great stack of unread books. A couple of weeks ago I was in a hostel just chatting with fellow travelers and telling my tales of China when someone asked if I had read "Wild Swans". While it sounded vaguely familiar, I had to confess that I hadn't and she told me it was a must-read for gaining insight into modern-day China. As we talked I whipped out my Nook (my Christmas present to myself) quietly downloaded it and began reading as soon as I got back to my room.
Now this is quite a lengthy tome (591 pages) but had I enough free continuous time I think I could have spent a weekend reading it. Instead I have had to read it piecemeal as I traveled but finally I am down to the last hundred pages and if I didn't have to spend the day trying to find somewhere to live so I can settle into my new job on Monday, I would finish it today. Imagine my surprise when I found that the stage version just opened in London at the Young Vic.
Basically this is the tale of 20th century China told through the lives of three generations of women. You are vividly taken from an era of bound feet and concubines through the Communist era and devastation wrought by the Cultural Revolution. It is gripping, written in a flowing style and, most importantly, true. No wonder it has sold more than 10 million copies and the BBC Wold Service has include it in their book club. Check your local library or download now. If you lived through the times or have a curiosity about China, you must read this!