Thursday, July 24, 2014

G355 Good Chinese Wife: A Love Affair with China Gone Wrong

Title: Good Chinese Wife; A Love Affair with China Gone Wrong

Author: Susan Blumberg-Kason

First copyright date: 2014

Type of book: China, 1990s, interracial relationship Asian male/white female, cultural differences, Hong Kong, making a life, career, university, keeping peace at all costs, China Wuhan (Hidden River), San Francisco, travel

General subject matter: A young woman from USA falls for Cai Jun, a Chinese national and ends up marrying him, doing her best to be a "traditional" Chinese wife at the cost of her sanity.

Special features: N/A

Price: $ 14.99

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1-4022-9334-4


A stunning memoir of an intercultural marriage gone wrong

When Susan, a shy Midwesterner in love with Chinese culture, started graduate school in Hong Kong, she quickly fell for Cai, the Chinese man of her dreams. As they exchanged vows, Susan thought she'd stumbled into an exotic fairy tale, until she realized Cai--and his culture--where not what she thought.

In her riveting memoir, Susan recounts her struggle to be the perfect traditional "Chinese" wife to her increasingly controlling and abusive husband. With keen insight and heart-wrenching candor, she confronts the hopes and hazards of intercultural marriage, including dismissing her own values and needs to save her relationship and protect her newborn son, Jake. But when Cai threatens to take Jake back to China for good, Susan must find the courage to stand up for herself, her son, and her future.

Moving between rural China and the bustling cities of Hong Kong and San Francisco, Good Chinese Wife is an eye-opening look at marriage and family in contemporary China and America and an inspiring testament to the resilience of a mother's love--across any border.

Author's Purpose:

"The narrative I wrote for Joanne spanned sixty-seven handwritten sheets of lined paper, taking me a week to complete. Things I'd buried for years emerged like wriggling earthworms from the dirt after a stormy night...Those shameful events seemed like a lifetime ago. When I read about them on paper, I wept not because they'd happened, but because I'd allowed them to happen. By leaving San Francisco, I wasn't just bringing Jake to a safe and supportive environment; I was also saving myself from a marriage that had become defined by fear." (315)

a. Why did the author write on this subject rather than on some other subject?

To be honest, I think she wrote this memoir to give more attention to inter cultural pairings as well importance of communication and also to help people examine their own ideas of marriage. While happy pairing endings are needed, but what else is needed is exploring the other side and to understand mistakes that can be made when in an inter-cultural pairing. (Personally speaking, if I should be with someone, I will personally use the book and issues in it to talk about what they think and feel. Also, things can always be worse. Yes, read the book to find out what I mean...)

b. From what point of view is the work written?

The book is written from Susan's point of view. She does try to understand Cai Jun's struggles in America, but since his point of view isn't given, we could only go on what she tells us and how she feels.

c. Was the author trying to give information, to explain something technical, to convince the reader of a belief’s validity by dramatizing it in action?

I would guess that she is trying to convince the reader of a belief's validity by dramatizing it in action. I also think that perhaps its an exploration of sorts about why and how things ended up the way they had.

d. What is the general field or genre, and how does the book fit into it? (Use outside sources to familiarize yourself with the field, if necessary.) Knowledge of the genre means understanding the art form. and how it functions.

The story focuses on university life in Hong Kong for outsiders as well as mainlanders, the cultural and power struggles between men and women, as well as trying to keep afloat when it comes to values, parenting and living in different places.

e. Who is the intended audience?

The intended audience would be men and women who are involved in inter-cultural relationships as well as those who have different faiths. I would guess the primary audience would be women and the emphasis is on those who choose to remain silent and what happens when they don't speak up for themselves.

f. What is the author's style? Is it formal or informal? Evaluate the quality of the writing style by using some of the following standards: coherence, clarity, originality, forcefulness, correct use of technical words, conciseness, fullness of development, fluidity. Does it suit the intended audience?

The style is informal and it does suit the audience. What I find interesting is that Susan spends very little time in developing Cai in beginning of the book before she plunges into matrimony. I would guess that its kind of purpose to give readers a sort of disconnect that she was experiencing throughout her marriage.

g. Scan the Table of Contents, it can help understand how the book is organized and will aid in determining the author's main ideas and how they are developed - chronologically, topically, etc.

The book is divided into forty-seven chapters, and I will list ten random ones.
*A Chance Meeting in Hong Kong
*Learning the Chinese Rules of Dating
*Honeymoon in Hong Kong
*Visit from "Japanese Father"
*At Home in Hong Kong
*Spring in San Francisco
*Trying Traditions
*Peace At Last
*Indian Summer
*Sweet Home Chicago

g. How did the book affect you? Were any previous ideas you had on the subject changed, abandoned, or reinforced due to this book? How is the book related to your own course or personal agenda? What personal experiences you've had relate to the subject?

The book shocked me. Here I thought I read and heard all of it, but somehow Susan's memoir continued to add new information that I've never been aware of and many times I had to re-read multiple paragraphs just to make sure I understood what I'm reading.  I also personally found the story addictive and the pages flew b very quickly.

h. How well has the book achieved its goal?

The book is very effective in achieving the goal because I did end up thinking of the why's as well as relating them to my own life and understanding the importance of assertiveness.

i. Would you recommend this book or article to others? Why?

I would recommend the book to others because it will really open up the doors on communication as well as differences and what people will look at as important.

a. Theme: The theme is the subject or topic. It is not necessarily the title, and it is usually not expressed in a complete sentence. It expresses a specific phase of the general subject matter.

Inter-cultural marriages are very complex and its important to build a foundation of something before jumping into sharing life with that person.

b. Thesis: The thesis is an author’s generalization about the theme, the author’s beliefs about something important, the book’s philosophical conclusion, or the proposition the author means to prove. Express it without metaphor or other figurative language, in one declarative sentence.

Marriage changes everyone and everything, and at times not for the good.

Quick Note: I would like to thank Susan Blumberg-Kason for giving me a chance to read this wonderful memoir, as well as Jocelyn from SpeakingofChina for organizing the book tour for this book. 

5 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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