Dream of the Walled City
Born in 1890, the privileged and sheltered daughter of a high-ranking imperial official, Jade Virtue spends her childhood enclosed by the towering walls of her family's sprawling mansion, never glimpsing the desperate struggle of China's ancient society, as the old ways are challenged and the twentieth century -- fast, fearsome, and tumultuous -- rushes in. But when her father mysteriously dies, young Jade Virtue is suddenly thrust into poverty, and experiences firsthand a traditional culture falling apart under the onslaught of growing rebellion against the Emperor, rapid social changes, and the mounting aggression of Japan and the West.
Fleischman has rendered a richly textured, panoramic vision of Chinese life in the perilous years between the end of the empire and the Communist triumph of 1949, charting Jade Virtue's arranged first marriage to the corrupt opium addict Wang Mang, who harbors a terrible secret in his family's past; her awakening independence and ambivalent politics; her struggles with motherhood; and her fascinating acquaintance with a gifted, idealistic, fiercely ambitious young man named Mao Zedong. But the most important choices of her life are shaped by her conflicting loyalties, her intense lifelong friendship with Jinyu, a fiery woman revolutionary, and to Guai, a government official and sworn enemy of the Communists, with whom she finally discovers true and redemptive love.
Exquisitely nuanced and lyrical yet marked with a driving power, Dream of the Walled City is an enthralling novel of hard-won personal independence set against the vivid backdrop of a rapidly changing world. From the final days of the last dynasty through the savage Japanese invasion during World War II to the formidable red dawn of the Communist triumph; from the backward rural province of Hunan to exile on the tropical shores of Taiwan; and from the binding chains of predetermined fate to the exhilarating liberation of a human spirit, this is a remarkable odyssey you will never forget.
Read an Excerpt
This person speaking is Jade Virtue, and Old Liang, the late chief magistrate of the city, was my father. He was important in life, and may still be so, out there among the dead. In the empire of China, in the red-earth province of Hunan, in the ancient walled city of Changsha, his mansion stood as one of the finest of the great houses. The manor flaunted its shiny green-tiled roofs, its carefully tended wisteria vines, like a proud woman in fine clothes. The outer walls were painted a fresh bright red every new year. Sunlight reflected from a hundred glass windows, while the windows in the other houses of the city were made of... see more
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