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Comment: This book has already been loved by someone else. It MIGHT have some wear and tear on the edges, have some markings in it, or be an ex-library book. Over-all itâ?TMs still a good book at a great price! (if it is supposed to contain a CD or access code, that may be missing)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (February 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307594068
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307594068
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #962,121 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. "China sat in the rooms of our house like a question," begins Conley in this luminous memoir of moving her family from Portland, Maine, to Beijing on the eve of the 2008 Olympics. Conley's husband had accepted a dream job in Beijing, and they had decided to say "yes to all the unknowns that will now rain down on us" including common difficulties faced by many families moving to a new city: a new school for her two young sons, finding new friends, and adjusting to a new apartment all compounded by the intensity of learning a difficult new language and adapting to a new culture. Conley's writing is at once spare and strong, and her description of having to present an unflappable front to her children while being hit "with a rolling wave of homesickness" pulls the reader into her world like a close friend. As Conley starts to hit her stride in her adopted city, she discovers lumps in her breast and finds herself on a different kind of journey, which she describes as "an essential aloneness that cancer has woven into my days." She explains in this engaging memoir that after her treatment in the U.S. was over, she returned to Beijing, where she searched for the perfect Chinese talisman to "ward off the leftover cancer juju" and hoping to help her boys move past their own fears of their mother's mortality. (Feb.)
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From Booklist

Conley, a writing teacher, and her husband, Tony, an IT consultant, relocate from Maine to Beijing with their two young sons. Her compelling and humorous account of the “cultural zeitgeist” in which they are suddenly immersed draws the reader in immediately. It’s a travelogue, a cultural history, and a memoir of parenting successes and disasters as she and Tony feel as though they’re running a “small overnight camp for American boys in Beijing.” As their initially reluctant sons gradually make friends, and Susan slowly learns enough Mandarin to negotiate bargaining at the market and trips with visitors to the Great Wall, their lives seem to be reaching an even keel. Then Susan discovers lumps in her left breast. The family returns for Susan’s mastectomy and follow-up radiation to Maine, where family and friends take over as surrogate moms, shuffling the boys from one activity to the next. Then they’re back in Beijing, where Susan must come to grips with not only a foreign culture but also “the haze of cancerland.” Beautifully written and insightful on many levels. --Deborah Donovan

More About the Author
Facebook: Susan Conley, Author
Twitter: Susan_Conley

Susan Conley lived in Beijing for close to three years and recently returned to Portland, Maine, with her husband and two sons. Her memoir about their time in China is called The Foremost Good Fortune and was released by Knopf on February 8th, 2011. She is cofounder and former executive director of the Telling Room, a writing workshop and literary hub for the region. Her work has been published in the New York Times Magazine, as well as The Paris Review, Harvard Review, Ploughshares and other literary magazines. She is currently working on a novel for Knopf and settling back into life in the States.

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Customer Reviews

It made me laugh out loud several times and cry as well, just like real life.
Anne Flynn
It's the kind of book that you want to buy a zillion copies of to give to all your friends, because you know they will love it just as much as you did.
She weaves together the story lines of her move with her family to China and her battle with breast cancer in a unique way.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By OverseasMom on February 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read this memoir in one sitting. As someone who moved with my husband and young children to Asia, I was hooked immediately. Susan nails the incidental moments - the minutiae - that define a family's transition to a new culture. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has experienced or is anticipating an overseas move with children. However, this aspect of Susan's story only scratches the surface of what makes this book a gem. It is funny at times, poignant at others. If you have grappled with parenting decisions, wondered about the realities of day to day life in China, faced an illness of any kind, or supported someone you love through one, you will find this book hard to put down. It is enlightening, hopeful and unequivocally life affirming.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By M Barry on February 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A wonderfully written account of an extraordinary experience connecting the worlds of China and Maine. The storyline does a remarkable job in weaving together the two parallel strands of a life abroad and the personal challenge of a life threatening disease. In capturing this confluence so well, I could feel ("juede") the life experience completely and also personally connect with the tales of survival. The reader can easily picture the sights, sounds and smells of Beijing ....and the overall experience that is China in transition circa 2007-2010. No other writing has captured this so well, in my estimation. This is a page turner that keeps you wanting to read more. I liked this book a LOT!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Sandra Thomas on February 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I had hoped to get a helpful western women's perspective on Beijing. This was pretty disappointing. I think the author needed to write this book as a cathartic exercise after a very difficult year or two. Unfortunately she did not seem to embrace the experience of being in a new culture and communicate it in a way that was at all helpful. She seemed to get lost in her own problems to the detriment of her readers. A different author, in a different place psychologically, or the same author with greater distance, could have written a very interesting and less self-absorbed book. Maybe this author can re-visit her experience at a later date.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Spitfireap on January 29, 2012
Format: Hardcover
First off, I knew what I was getting into when I started this book. I was interested in the "pack up and move to a new country" part and understood that I'd get the cancer blog as well. Her writing on the trials, frustrations, and joys that accompany a move to a foreign land were often entertaining and relatable (she has more trials and frustrations than joys).

The most interesting part to me was the insight into a mind so different from mine - Susan doesn't seem to be a happy woman. She responds as I expected to the cancer, and the second half of the book took some effort from me to stay interested. I hope I can see life through happier eyes if I ever get a disease like hers.

It was an easy read, though. I wouldn't recommend this book but I think I got something out of it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jaylia3 TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Susan Conely's honest and introspective memoir Foremost Good Fortune is a gripping read involving multiple, interconnecting spheres. Covering the time surrounding the Beijing Olympics when she lived in China with her husband and young sons, it's part travelogue, part chronicle of the expat experience in one of the world's most powerful and fascinating nations, and part a record of what it feels like to leave just about everything and everyone you know to start a new life.

Most authors of books on relocating to an exotic part of the world are thrilled to be on their journey. Susan Conely is openly ambivalent and that is part of what makes this book so eye-opening and interesting. It's her husband's love of China that led the family across the world to where he had found a two year job. Her sons were resistant and unhappy at first, but then they seemed to be adjusting faster than she was. Though Conely is both accomplished and independent she did not arrive in China knowing the language and so found herself uncomfortably more dependent on her husband than she ever had been at home in Maine. Starting from scratch she began learning the language, finding friends and enjoying her life in a new and sometimes beautiful country.

Then she got cancer. That's a journey I've been on, and her description of how deeply disorienting it is, how it changes the way you think and look at the world in ways neither you or your loved ones can always anticipate were true to my experience.

A well written page turner.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Annie1 on December 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The life of Beijing for a young American family who due to work circumstances, move from USA to China, and the challenges they as a family face. One big challenge that noone counted on was the author's breast cancer. The first half of the book I found very interesting and a small snapshot of life in China as an expat.

The second half of the book, the pace seemed to slow a little as Susan (author and cancer sufferer) comes to terms with her cancer, and ponders the reasons why she had it and moving on with life, knowing that it could return, and longing for the life of USA, whilst slowly embracing the Chinese way.

I became a little bored with parts of the second half - too much self reflection for my taste, though others will no doubt disagree.

Book gives a glimpse into China but ultimately I felt unsatisfied.
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