Release Date: July 29th 2014
Susan is a young American woman from Chicago, who suddenly get's the chance to do her master's degree in China. Having an interest in China for long, she doesn't hestitate and grabs this amazing opportunity with both hands. It is at the university in Hong Kong when she meets Cai, who is also studying there. Their relationship starts when they start living together in a dorm room. After a few months he proposes to her, and they marry. Susan has found the man of her dreams in Cai, and from the start she tries to be the good Chinese wife Cai expects her to be.
But soon little things start to change and little bursts starts to appear in the cement of their marriage. Cai is renting movies, the filthy kind, and Susan is ofcourse very bothered that he watches them in her presence. Cai is starting to setting his own needs higher then those of his wife.“I know what American wives are like. I also know what Chinese wives are like. And then there’s you!” When Susan tries to step up to him, he loses his temper and gives her the silent treatment for days. Susan though tries to keep him happy and makes excuses for his behavior. She even excuses him when she finds out he has be unfaithful to her and she has got an infection from it, She expects that things will get better when they move to San Francisco, where they have bought a house and eventually their son is born. But Cai has problems finding a job and adjusting to the American way of live. Things got even more worse when Cai's parents are coming over from China to live with Susan and Cai for a year. They have their own set of idea's of what's good for their son, which all not all the best idea's to set a healthy eating and sleeping pattern for him. And Cai is blaming all on Susan. Cai is going out almost every night, while he blames Susan for going away when she does. Susan even receives strange calls from unknown woman at her house, asking for Cai. When Cai threats to go back to China and take their son with him (with the treath of keeping him there as China hasn't signed the The Hague Convention for parental child abduction) Susan starts to see that she can't live like this anymore with Cai and has to stand up for herself and the wellbeing of her son for once and for all.
Good Chinese Wife is a moving and impressing memoir about a woman who is under the thumb of her abusive husband. You see how Susan struggles with standing up for herself and how difficult it was to live with Cai. I sometimes wondered though why she let it pass for so long, and didn't seek help earlier, as her internal alarm bells ringed for a long time that something was very wrong in her marriage. Luckily her parents come to stay after Cai's parent's return to China, and they also see Cai's behaviour and advise Susan to seek counselling, something Cai also refuses to start. With a memoir with this topic, the danger lures that it relies to much on misery, but this book doesn't fall into that. I thought it was very brave of Susan to keep up so long with Cai, and how she steps up for herself in the end is just very courageous, I did wonder though if it was the cultural differences that made this a bad marriage or it was just the wrong, wrong man which can be found everywhere. I also liked the different backdrops of the book that the author described very vividly, especially Hong Kong. Overall, I was very impressed by Susan's story and I truly recommend this book to everyone interested in Asia.
I first became interested in Hong Kong when my grandparents traveled there when I was young. After they brought me a wooden jewelry box, silk dragon slippers, and a satin Chinese jacket, I was hooked. But when my high school trip to China canceled our stop in Hong Kong due to high costs, I was determined to make my way there one way or another. I ended up living in Hong Kong for five years.
I’ve been back in the US for more than a decade now, but there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about those years in Hong Kong. So what was so magical about living in Hong Kong? I’ve put together eight highlights. (Eight is a good luck number in Chinese culture. It rhymes with wealth!)
1. Hong Kong has the most convenient public transportation.
As an undergraduate, and later graduate student, I couldn’t afford the high cost of buying a car in Hong Kong. But I wasn’t alone, as most Hong Kong residents do not own cars. There’s no need! I remember first learning the train and subway routes. I also loved riding the double-decker buses. On Hong Kong Island, I enjoyed taking the charming old double-decker trams. And my favorite way to cross the harbor was to ride one of the old green and white Star Ferries. Hong Kong is a public transportation dream come true!
2. Hong Kong is a great restaurant city.
As a student and later an entry-level copy editor, I ate very well in Hong Kong with little money. I loved the variety of Chinese restaurants alone! There were Chiu Chow and Cantonese restaurants from southern China; Beijing noodle places; Shanghai and Ningbo restaurants; spicy Sichuan and Hunan restaurants; and many others. Dim sum is very popular in Hong Kong, and I often enjoyed this Chinese brunch on a weekly basis. When I was pregnant with my oldest son, I craved starchy Italian pasta. That was no problem because Hong Kong has many western restaurants, too. I also enjoyed the Indian and Middle Eastern greasy spoons.
3. Hong Kong is a great shopping city. Although the days of the 24-hour suit are over, Hong Kong is still a wonderful place to shop. I must say, though, that I had a great time getting a suit custom-made during my first year in Hong Kong. My roommate and I shopped for fabric at a market. We then took a bus to a very local (ie, not an expat area) part of Hong Kong where we met with a tailor in her small apartment. I went back for a fitting before she finished the suit. It was a great experience! I also enjoyed shopping for people back home. After I bought my mother her first pair of gold Chinese character earrings, she often put in similar orders for friends and coworkers.
4. Hong Kong is beautiful.
In Good Chinese Wife, I write about Hong Kong’s stunning skyline. Ultra-modern skyscrapers line the northern part of Hong Kong Island. With the harbor in the foreground and the mountains in the background, there is nothing quite like it. I also love the colorful neon signs that illuminate Hong Kong at night. Before I moved to Hong Kong, I didn’t know much about the rural areas, but grew to love the verdant mountains and pristine countryside, not to mention the many outlying islands.
5. Hong Kong is fabulous because of its people.
During my first year in Hong Kong, some of my American classmates complained about pushy and impatient locals. But I quickly developed an affinity with the savvy and smart Hong Kong Chinese. Unlike in China, where people stared at me every time I purchased something or even walked down the street, people in Hong Kong just let me be. They were used to seeing foreigners. It’s because of the industriousness of the Hong Kong people that their city is as modern and vibrant as it is today.
6. Hong Kong is a safe city.
No matter what hour of the day or night I wandered the streets or rode public transportation, I never felt unsafe. The only crime people in Hong Kong have to worry about is pickpocketing, but that happens everywhere. There were some gang fights when I lived there, but it almost never affected innocent bystanders.
7. Hong Kong is a diverse city.
Although Hong Kong is 98% Chinese, the other 2% is very diverse. There are sizable British, American, Japanese, Filipino, and Indian populations, as well as African, South Korean, Australian, other European expats.
8. Hong Kong has many fans.
This only became apparent after I left Hong Kong, but it seems that no matter where I go or whom I meet, I always find other people who love Hong Kong. They may have been expats, too, or perhaps have traveled there for work. And of course friends who were born and raised in Hong Kong have a special place in their hearts for their homeland. When I think about it, I’ve never met a former Hong Kong expat who hasn’t loved living there. It’s a special place and there’s nowhere else quite like it.