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Daughters of the Flower Fragrant Garden

Two Sisters Separated by China's Civil War

by Zhuqing Li

Daughters of the Flower Fragrant Garden by Zhuqing Li X
Daughters of the Flower Fragrant Garden by Zhuqing Li
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  • Published:
    Jun 2022, 368 pages


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There are currently 25 reader reviews for Daughters of the Flower Fragrant Garden
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Power Reviewer
Claire M. (Sarasota, FL)

China Separation
To read this book, one must reflect on human endurance, choices, failed government policies, women's search for their place in the world against odds everywhere and the consequences of it all.

Two sisters, separated by the most unimagined of circumstances live through the cultural revolution in China on opposing lands. The ideological differences are made clear and through all the years of separation when the chance to see one another and have the family unite are finally mastered by the sister who was never able to return to mainland China figures the way to do it and takes massive steps to gain the documents to accomplish it. They unite as family, but the years of living through different political systems remain.

What do we do to achieve our goals and make that more important than the greater good? What do we do caught on the other side wanting to see our families but having to make another way to live?
Essentially, we must acknowledge the failures of both ideological systems and how a family separated by accidental forces of governmental policy manages their separate ways to survive.
Jean F

Daughters of the Flower Fragrant Garden
This is a heartfelt family saga of determination, dedication, and resilience. Sisters Jun and Hong, from a formerly wealthy Chinese family, end up on two sides of the political divide and physically separated by the waters between mainland China and the island of Jinmen (now Quemoy). Their career ambitions (medicine and teaching) and their personal lives are impacted by the civil war and later, the hardships of the Cultural Revolution. Through extensive family conversations and research, author Li has crafted a marvelous account of how these two very different women, her aunts, accommodated themselves to their respective political climates, raised children, and still managed to forge a path ahead. Li’s perceptive rendering of their different approaches to life provides added depth. I was immersed in this book from the moment I began reading!
Carol S. (Mt. Juliet, TN)

Daughter of the Fragrant Flower Garden
Daughters of the Fragrant Flower Garden is a riveting memoir written by Zhuqing Li, niece of sisters Jun and Hong. The sisters lived in Nationalist China of the 1930s in the family compound called Fragrant Flower Garden, where they were surrounded by wealth and privilege.

Jun, two years older than her sister, trained to be a teacher. While visiting a friend on an island under Nationalist control, she became accidentally separated from her sister and entire family living on the mainland during the upheaval caused by the Chinese Civil War. Understanding she could not return home, she was forced to forge a new path for herself, ultimately living with her husband and children inTaiwan and then in the USA.

Hong, Jun's younger sister, became a doctor on mainland China and was uprooted from the path of her career after the Communist Chinese takeover. Twice she faced incredible physical and emotional hardship and isolation from her husband, children and career to endure reeducation in distant impoverished areas of China. There, she was forced to pay dearly for her association with those the Party deemed disloyal, including her sister and family, and was required to prove her loyalty to the Party.

The two sisters went their separate ways but were equally determined to find happiness and success despite unimaginable obstacles.

I highly recommend this compelling historical account of those living in China during a time of political upheaval. One cannot fail to see the parallels in the story between China and Taiwan then and tensions now in the forefront of current events.
Sylvia F. (Lincoln, CA)

Daughters of The Flower Fragrant Garden
This book is about two remarkable sisters who lived in China during the Japan conflict and then during the Chinese Civil War. It was both informative and interesting to follow how Jun's life was under the Nationalist control and how Hung's life was during the political upheaval of the Mao's communist government.

Both sisters were are intelligent resouceful and determined to live their lives in spite of numerous hardships. Jun started out as a teacher then became a very sucessful business woman in Taiwain. Her younger sister Hung was a doctor who after saving numerous lives was "re-educated" by the communist government.

I found the facts about Jin nem island a mile from the mainland very interesting. That island became the frontline defense of Taiwain.

A well written book full of historical facts and kept the reasders interest. A book I will recommend to my book club.
Power Reviewer
Doris K. (Mountain Iron, MN)

Daughters of the Flower Fragrant Garden
This is an interesting memoir of two sisters separated by the communist takeover of China and the separation of Nationalists to Taiwan. The true story is narrated by a niece. The book is a descriptive analysis of women growing up in the thirties. Their stories are significant today due to the current interest in China.

I found it fascinating to actually read the details of people who lived during this time. The writing is excellent, even though this is true history it almost reads like a novel.

I will definitely recommend this book to my book club and other friends.
Ellen H. (Leonia, NJ)

A great book club choice!
Daughters of the Flower Fragrant Garden is the beautifully told story of two very close sisters from a respected Chinese family who found themselves geographically separated at the beginning of the Chinese Civil War – a separation that lasted for over 30 years. On their very different paths, these two smart, resilient, hard-working women were committed to being the best that they could be in the face of extreme challenges. One remained loyal to Taiwan and the Nationalist cause, while the other embraced the goals and ideas of the Communist Party to protect herself and her family. The author, Zhuqing Li who is their niece, places their stories and her family history in the context of the Chinese Civil War and the many cultural and economic changes that took place in China in the 20th Century. I think this would be a great book club choice. The themes of war, endurance and strong family ties could spark an interesting discussion.
Jean B. (Naples, FL)

Two aunts/two Chinas
Zhuqing Li writes about the lives of her two remarkable aunts. She also gives us a picture of two Chinas: communist on the main land and democracy on Taiwan. Her aunts were close during their childhood, living in their beautiful home, the Flower Flagrant Garden. They were separated during their adult lives. Hong became a famous and revered doctor in mainland communist China and Jun became a successful entrepreneur in Taiwan.

The author brings these two women to life in her well-researched book. She is currently a professor of East Asian Studies at Brown University. Readers of her book will have a better understanding of both Chinas and a real admiration for the author and her aunts,

Strong, wise women
In “Daughters of the Flower Fragrant Garden,” Zhuqing Li tells the story of her two aunts, sisters whose lives are irrevocably changed by China’s political revolution in the 20th century.
Hong, a skilled surgeon, uses her talents to improve the lives of Chinese peasant women. But she is caught up in Mao’s Cultural Revolution and must leave her family and career to spend years in a reeducation camp in the countryside. Her sister, Jun, a teacher, finds herself stranded on the island of Tawian and unable to return to her family on the mainland. She must make herself a new family in her new country. Li’s excellent writing makes reading “Fragrant Garden” a very pleasurable history lesson. And the woman’s stories are truly inspirational.

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