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Sweet Mandarin

The Courageous True Story of Three Generations of Chinese Women and Their Journey from East to West

by Helen Tse

Sweet Mandarin by Helen Tse X
Sweet Mandarin by Helen Tse
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  • Published in USA  Jul 2008
    288 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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There are currently 19 reader reviews for Sweet Mandarin
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Louise J

Beautiful Memoir
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.

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.
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.

A story of resilence and the power of the human spirit
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It read like a novel but I had to keep reminding myself it was a true story. The book is mainly about Lily, the matriarch of three generations of women and her life in rural China, Hong Kong and later England. Sweet Mandarin refers to a restaurant started by Lily's granddaughters. Two thumbs up!

Delightful Read
Sweet Mandarin, by Helen Tse is a delightful read about three generations of Chinese women that affirms the strength and resiliency of the feminine spirit. A memoir that seems more like a novel, takes the reader from Hong Kong to England and back. This true story keeps the pages turning! Unlike recent books about ancient Chinese heroines, these women live in the twentieth century. A lot of the old ways still exist but this family embraces the blending of cultures without losing the strength of their roots. Much of what is passed from one generation to the next, revolves around the love of food and cooking. I found it fascinating reading. It's a good book!

Sweet Mandarin
This is a memoir of the lives of the author's grandmother and mother and, to a lesser extent, the author herself. The story of what the grandmother went through pre-World War II and post-World War II in China and Hong Kong is amazing. The choices she had to make are heartbreaking. Parts of the book are like a history lesson but in a good way. The historical details are woven seamlessly into the narration. The author gives a very honest portrayal - the good and the bad, the strengths and the weaknesses - of her family. Would definitely recommend this book for book clubs.

Readable History of China
The characters in this book illustrate in a completely readable fashion the history of China. Each generation of these amazing women has its own happiness and tragedy. Their lives made me appreciate what we as Americans take for granted every day. They were poor beyond imagining, but their faith and their courage unshakable. You don't have to be familiar with Chinese food to realize what it signified and how it brought the women together, but at the end you will be.

This is a highly readable book - you will have a hard time putting it down.

Sweeet Mandarin
The writing is excellent. I have read a great deal about China.
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