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Publisher's Summary

While Pang-Mei Natasha Chang was a Chinese Studies major at Harvard University, she stumbled across the name of her 83-year-old great aunt Chang Yu-i in a history book. Over the next several years, Pang-Mei spent long afternoons drawing forth her aunt's story. Born in Shanghai to a well-to-do family, Chang Yu-i lived a life of defiance, continually breaking class and culture barriers. Her saga, told touchingly by her first-generation, American-born niece, includes her marriage to the preeminent Chinese poet Hs| Chih-Mo, how she ran the Shanghai Women's Savings Bank in the 1930s, and how she endured the anguish of China's first Western-style divorce.
Recording (P)1997 by Audio Literature; Copyright ©1996 by Pang-Mei Natasha Chang; Cover Design by Mario J. Pulice; Cover Photographs from the Author's Collection

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Strong woman

Chang Yu-I is an amazingly strong woman who endured such hardship and still pursued the best for her children and for herself. This is a heartbreaking story of a lack of connection with those close to her (beyond her relationship with one of her brothers) and of repeated loss; a story of the tension between traditional Chinese values and progressive Western pursuits.

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Only 4 chapters

Would you try another book from Pang-Mei Natasha Chang and/or Pang-Mei Natasha Chang?

I have to read this for my history class so I bought this and it ended up being not even half the book. I knew it was too good to be true. Now I actually have to read this book that I have no desire to read.

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Very Enjoyable! -- Worth the Price!

I loved this short book. It is so interesting to hear the transition of China into modernity. A personal recounting as to how it affected several families gives the hearer more insight into the culture of the East as opposed to the West -- that can be very difficult to understand. The author is the narrator in this case and she does a fine job with difficult Chinese pronunciations. I will listen to this again and again.

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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Vanessa
  • West Covina, CA, United States
  • 08-04-11

Goes by quick!

Was great to hear the author's voice even though the production quality wasn't all that great.

I have been a fan of Xu Zhimo ever since I read his most famous poem "Saying Good-bye to Cambridge Again." It's a beautiful poem and even more beautiful in Chinese. My favorite stanza:
"Very quietly I take my leave,
As quietly as I came here;
Gently I flick my sleeves,
Not even a wisp of cloud will I bring away."

His poetry is so enchanting, beautiful, fluid.

Well, you can imagine that I was surprised to find out that he's actually kind of a jerk and an irresponsible father.

This book is about the first wife of the famous Xu Zhimo as told by her grand niece, Natasha Chang. It followed Zhang YouYi's hardships and how she dealt with betrayal, loss, and the ever-changing time period that she lived in.

The narrative is very well crafted and her grand niece does an excellent job in putting her own reflections without taking away from the main objective of the story. There was just enough of her voice but not too much to distract. She's a good story-teller.

This is a good read for those who are interested in the history and development of modern China and the thought process of those living in that period.

The amazing thing about family histories are that they follow one story and so you learn about history through a very focused lens, enough to interest a variety of readers. Stories are the most powerful tools of retelling history.