Sweet Mandarin Reviews
"Sweet Mandarin is a banquet of family stories that take us from a small
Chinese village to cosmopolitan Hong Kong and urban Manchester. Along the way,
the ingredients of special dishes and a rich life are added: a homemade stock of
hard life, a pound of tragedy, a spoonful of daring, a dash of curses, and
dollop after dollop of sheer will. This is a family memoir of survival and
victories, luck and determination, and perpetual mounds of dirty dishes waiting
to be washed." - Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club.
"Read this book
the story of an amazing family 3 generations of Chinese women
and their sweet and sour, hot and bitter lives." - Xinran, author of The Good
Women of China.
"A heartrending and tender story of three generations of Chinese women who
transform their lives" - Wall Street Journal.
"[A] delightful, well-written and at times painful memoir." - Publishers Weekly.
"An easy-flowing tale that subsumes historical changes in personal histories,especially the plight of the author's grandmother." - Kirkus Reviews.
"Tse captures the drama, colour and particularly the flavours of Lily's life."
Scotland on Sunday.
"An amazing story." - Manchester Evening News.
"Wrapped in the cultural and ancestral mystery of food, this memoir will be appreciated by general readers and students of Asian and women's studies. Recommended for public and academic libraries." - Library Journal.
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Sweet Mandarin Reader Reviews
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Rated of 5
This family suffered tragedy after tragedy but managed to pick themselves up and keep moving forward in spite of the most horrible conditions and abject poverty. The strength of these Chinese women is astounding and a tribute to the culture they were born in to.
This story was so enjoyable and so interesting that I read it one sitting. Helen Tse’s writing flowed well and made for a very pleasant experience. I look forward to reading more of this author’s work. Sweet Mandarin is her debut novel.
Rated of 5
The writing is excellent. I have read a great deal about China.
Rated of 5
Loved it! Loved it! Loved it!
How much did I love this memoir? A celebration of mothers and daughters and food, glorious food! I read slowly, savoring the words, not wanting to run out, knowing what would happen then. "And then what happened?" I wanted more. I wanted to visit Sweet Mandarin, and barring that, I wanted those recipes! I adored this memoir, these remarkable women and their journey of strength and wisdom. Certain passages, especially at the end, are so special, they give me goosebumps. When at last I'd reached The End, I closed the book feeling so proud of these women I'd come to know and love. And so inspired.
Rated of 5
An engaging family history
Helen Tse's "Sweet Mandarin" succeeds most when she is telling the story of her maternal great-grandfather, an enterprising soy sauce producer and entrepreneur in rural China, and his daughter, Lily, Tse's grandmother, who overcame poverty and worked her way up from a servant and nanny in early Hong Kong to a respected restaurateur in Middleton, England. Tse also includes the story of her parents, who also owned and ran several Chinese restaurants, and a little about how she and her two sisters opened their own Chinese restaurant, called Sweet Mandarin. Mostly, though, this is the engaging story of and tribute to Lily Kwok--a strong and confident woman who made a living and supported her children despite rough times, an unreliable husband, and some hard choices.
This book would appeal to both young-adult and adult readers, and would make for interesting book club discussions. Readers learn what life was like in rural China and early Hong Kong, and also a bit about the Chinese immigrant experience in England in the 1950's. A recommended read.
Rated of 5
Nancy (Nashville TN)
Knowing that the people, places and events portrayed in this book are real helped to make reading it even more enjoyable. Helen Tse brings the reader into her life and the lives of her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother through the places, events and Chinese traditions and culture that influenced them. Each woman experienced hardships and made sacrifices because of them. These things only seemed to make them stronger. The heritage that Helen and her sisters received from each of these women is brought out in their own ambitions and perseverance; and they, in turn, will pass it on to their children.
The husbands and fathers of each of these women were also important. A male child is honored in Chinese families because they are the link to carrying on the family name and become the support for the older members of the family. As fathers, these men valued their daughters and gave worth to their lives.
I think that it would be a real treat to travel to England and eat in the Sweet Mandarin restaurant and taste the dishes made from the recipes that have survived through generations. I would highly recommend reading this book for history, culture and pure enjoyment.
Rated of 5
I enjoyed reading Sweet Mandarin but would not add it to my list of favorite books to recommend. The story was somewhat predictable. Lily was an interesting character and I admired the strength that she and her family showed against great obstacles.
...13 more reader reviews