The Promise: Love and Loss in Modern China

 

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At the start of the twentieth century in China, the Hans were married in an elaborate ceremony before they were even born. While their future was arranged by their families, this couple had much to be grateful for. Not only did they come from similar backgrounds - and as such were recognized as a good match - they also had a shared passion in their deep love of ancient Chinese poetry.


They went on to have nine children and chose colours portrayed in some of their favourite poems as nicknames for them - Red, Cyan, Orange, Yellow, Green, Ginger, Violet, Blue and Rainbow. Fate, and the sweep of twentieth century history would later divide these children into three groups: three went to America or Hong Kong to protect the family line from the communists; three were married to revolutionaries having come of age as China turned red; while three suffered tragic early deaths. With her trademark wisdom and warmth, Xinran describes the lives and loves of this extraordinary family over four generations.


What emerges is not only a moving, beautifully-written and engaging story of four people and their lives, but a crucial portrait of social change in China. Xinran begins with the magic and tragedy of one young couples wedding night in 1950, and goes on to tell personal experiences of loss, grief and hardship through China's extraordinary century. In doing so she tells a bigger story - how traditional Chinese values have been slowly eroded by the tide of modernity and how their outlooks on love, and the choices they've made in life, have been all been affected by the great upheavals of Chinese history.


A spell-binding and magical narrative, this is the story of modern China through the people who lived through it, and the story of their love and loss.

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