Approximate word count: 95-100,000 words
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A native of Hong Kong, Veronica Li immigrated to the U.S. at fifteen. She has a B.A in English from UC-Berkeley, and a Master’s in International Affairs from Johns Hopkins University. Li has worked for the Asian Wall Street Journal and the World Bank. In addition to this book, she has a novel, Nightfall in Mogadishu, a spy thriller.
“This is a true and touching story of one Chinese woman's search for home. It is also an inspiring book about human yearning for a better life. To escape poverty, Flora Li fought her way through the education system and became one of the few women to get into the prestigious Hong Kong University. When the Japanese invaded, she fled to unoccupied China, where she met her future husband, the son of China's finance minister (later deputy prime minister). She thought she had found the ideal husband, but soon discovered that he suffered from emotional disorders caused by family conflicts and the wars he had grown up in. Whenever he had a breakdown, Flora would move the family to another city, from Shanghai to Nanking to Hong Kong to Bangkok to Taipei and finally across the four seas to the U.S. Throughout her migrations, Flora kept her sight on one goal: providing her children with the best possible education.”
When Veronica Li’s aging parents came to live with her, she was reminded of her mother Flora’s love for telling stories about her life, and how much she enjoyed listening to them. Li started taping the stories and, once arranged chronologically, was left with the material for this biography.
I’ll often read something because it looks interesting and end up serendipitously filling gaps in my knowledge that I hadn’t anticipated. In this instance, through the story of one woman, I received keen insight into the culture of Hong Kong and China, as well as the history of both throughout most of the 1900s. As Flora’s fortunes rose and fell, I was able to compare and contrast not only the differences between financial stratas within Chinese society, but also the similarities and differences to the U.S. and to what I know of other countries and cultures. If you find such things as interesting as I do, Journey Across the Four Seas should be on your reading list.
No significant issues.
Rating: **** Four stars