Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister — Jung Chang

I have been a Jung Chang fan girl since I read my mum’s copy of Wild Swans when I was 14. More recently, I read her brilliant Mao biography. In this book, she once again demonstrates her talent for turning complexity into accessible and often riveting prose.

It’s a gripping history of three sisters who shaped 20th-century China. Big Sister went into business, little sister married Chiang Kai-shek and became first lady, and Red Sister rose to become Mao’s vice chair. (By her own admission, Chang didn’t at first think that the Soong sisters were going to be that interesting, originally planning to write a book about Sun Yat-sen, the ‘father’ of republican China.)

I enjoyed how Chang doesn’t overly sentimentalise their story. She gives them a sympathetic hearing, without either making them into heroines or absolving them of their wrongs. They were brilliant women, whose relationships with each other, alongside their own abilities and acumen, had a huge impact on their country. I’d totally recommend giving it a go.

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