The Courageous True Story of Three Generations of Chinese Women and Their Journey from East to Westby Helen Tse
Spanning almost a hundred years, this rich and evocative memoir recounts the lives of three generations of remarkable Chinese women.
Their extraordinary journey takes us from the brutal poverty of village life in mainland China, to newly prosperous 1930s Hong Kong and finally to the UK. Their lives were as dramatic as the times they lived through.
A love of food and a talent for cooking pulled each generation through the most devastating of upheavals. Helen Tse's grandmother, Lily Kwok, was forced to work as an amah after the violent murder of her father. Crossing the ocean from Hong Kong in the 1950s, Lily honed her famous chicken curry recipe. Eventually she opened one of Manchester's earliest Chinese restaurants where her daughter, Mabel, worked from the tender age of nine. But gambling and the Triads were pervasive in the Chinese immigrant community, and tragically they lost the restaurant. It was up to author Helen and her sisters, the third generation of these exceptional women, to re-establish their grandmother's dream. The legacy lived on when the sisters opened their award-winning restaurant Sweet Mandarin in 2004.
Sweet Mandarin shows how the most important inheritance is wisdom, and how recipes--passed down the female line--can be the most valuable heirloom.
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"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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Helen Tse (pronounced See) grew up in Manchester, UK. She studied law at Cambridge University and went on to work as a finance lawyer in London, Hong Kong, and Manchester. She opened the restaurant Sweet Mandarin with her two sisters, Lisa and Janet, in 2004, following the culinary footsteps of her mother and grandmother.
Watch Helen Tse discussing her book.
Visit the website of Sweet Mandarin - both the restaurant and book.
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