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Good Chinese Wife: A Love Affair with China Gone Wrong Paperback – July 29, 2014

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Editorial Reviews


"A harrowing story of abuse and terror. Susan Blumberg shares her story with women and shows that domestic violence, sadly, pervades every culture. A must read." - Cayocosta72

"An American freelance journalist's painful account of how a hasty marriage to a Chinese man turned her life upside is the author's courage to face her mistakes that makes the book worthwhile." - Kirkus

"Susan Blumberg-Kason's Good Chinese Wife is a stark and honest interrogation of her young marriage to a Chinese man. Blumberg-Kason we choose our life partners, and to what extent human beings are willing – and able – to communicate with and love each other over the vast differences that can define and divide us. This is a thoughtful memoir about how to take valuable lessons from even our most painful adventures." - Rachel DeWoskin, author of Foreign Babes in Beijing

"A fascinating, poignant and brutally honest memoir that you won't be able to put down. Good Chinese Wife is riveting." - Wendy Tokunaga, author of Midori by Moonlight and His Wife and Daughters

"Susan Blumberg-Kason is a masterful storyteller, turning the harrowing details of her own experience into a compulsively readable account of a marriage gone wrong. Readers who pick up GOOD CHINESE WIFE out of curiosity about cross-cultural relationships will find plenty to ponder on that subject, but Blumberg-Kason's story is, more importantly, a universal tale of love, disillusionment, and the courage it takes to move on." - Dana Sachs, author of The Secret of the Nightingale Palace

"Falling in love with a foreign culture can be a tempting love affair: one that gives you a chance to escape yourself and the constraints of your own upbringing. But when it goes wrong, it goes really wrong, as Susan Blumberg-Kason's gripping memoir amply illustrates. GOOD CHINESE WIFE is a refreshing, painfully honest look at what happens when the mask of romance, both cultural and personal, is dropped, revealing the stranger beneath." - Lisa Brackmann, author of the New York Times bestselling Ellie McEnroe series

"Told in a very frank and honest way, this book is a road map for all things that can go wrong when two people who are wayyyyy too different in every way get married." - Bookshipper

"I found this book to be heartbreaking at times. Susan evolves into a much stronger person and the ending is a happy one. This was a great memoir and a real page turner for me." - Patty's Paperbacks

"Good Chinese Wife is a moving and impressing memoir about a woman who is under the thumb of her abusive husband...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. " - Marjolein Reads

"This book is a good reminder to be aware at all times of who you are and what you expect out of life and to make sure that the person you choose to marry is on the same wavelength that you are. Hopefully, this story will help the next women before she ends up in a place she doesn't really want to be in." - Mary's Cup of Tea

About the Author

SUSAN BLUMBERG-KASON is a freelance journalist in Chicago. Her work has appeared in the Chicago Sun Times, TimeOut Chicago, Journal of the American Dietetic Association, and Chicago Parent magazine. She lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband and three children.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks (July 29, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402293348
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402293344
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,278 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

This fast-paced memoir reads like a novel.
Popsy Kanagaratnam
“Good Chinese Wife” is a new memoir published by Sourcebooks, and is a poignant tale expats should enjoy about the overlap of China and the West.
Ray H
Naive and in love, Susan determines to be the warm, soft, good Chinese wife that her husband wants her to be.
Julia Flyte

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Reader on August 18, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Can romantic relationships transcend cultural boundaries? Not if we believe Susan Blumberg-Kason. In her memoir she recounts the tale of her failed marriage to Cai Jun, a Chinese man she met while living in Hong Kong. Her book’s back cover tells us that, “As they exchanged vows, Susan thought she’d stumbled into an exotic fairy tale, until she realized Cai—and his culture—were not what she thought.” As promised, Blumberg-Kason recounts many failings on her husband’s part, which she attributes to nebulous but seemingly immutable cultural differences. If that sounds like a leap of logic, it’s because it is; Blumberg-Kason may have meant to regale us with a story of her struggles in love, but what she has provided instead is a confession of her own racism.

The book begins with Blumberg-Kason, attending graduate school in Hong Kong. She meets Cai, and, smitten, joins him for a date at a dance. Only weeks later, Cai informs her that he’d like to date her, but that, in China, people only date if they intend to get married. Naive and inexperienced, she accepts this as fact and agrees to date and thus marry him. The two are engaged, and Cai’s parents encourage them to get married as soon as possible. They have a court ceremony in Hong Kong and a banquet in Cai’s hometown of Hidden River. Unfortunately, Cai turns out to be a less than ideal husband, raising his voice or ignoring her when they disagree, spending long nights out with friends while expecting her to remain home, and watching pornographic movies without regard for her presence or comfort. They move to San Francisco and have a child, which Blumberg-Kason hopes will somehow stabilize their shaky marriage.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Trekker on August 13, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Susan’s heart-rending, suspenseful memoir is not only relevant for intercultural couples but equally so for anyone naively blinded by the passions of a new love. Who among us hasn’t been similarly smitten only later to see a situation or person with a clearer, wiser lens?

The maxim that “experience is the best teacher” may be true, but such real life lessons can be extremely painful and even potentially disastrous. Susan’s own survival instincts combined with the constant support of her parents force a strategy that ultimately leads to a happier future for everyone involved. If a similar tale had been part of the curriculum when Susan was tutoring Cai in English, would they have been wiser about their relationship?

Ideally others will learn from their story. Parents, too, will find much food for thought in this memoir. What if anything do we do when we question the choices of our adult children or see them in pain? Good Chinese Wife is destined to generate lots of book club and family discussions.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By katehunt on August 20, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
This was a beautifully written book which told the story of a young girls life from being a post graduate student studying in Hong Kong to being a mother who leaves her marriage because her Chinese husband isn’t being supportive, which is why I would give it 5 stars & recommend it to other people.

It was a fascinating book because it enabled you to learn about Chinese culture and beliefs and how they can sometimes not mesh very well with western beliefs and customs. Although even taking that into account Cai did do so really nasty things even to their baby son, including threatening to send him back to China for his mother to raise him.

I also loved how Susan finally made the decision to Leave Cai finally when she got some legal advice about what would happen if Jacob was taken back to China against her wishes and found out that she likely wouldn’t be able to get him back. It was fantastic to see the light to ignite in her and made her make the decision to not to just leave Cai but to leave him that weekend, along with her son and with her mothers help to do it.

It was also very interesting to see how Cai reacted to the letter and the fact that Susan had left him because rather than getting really angry and detached as he usually would have done he actually was really upset, & heartbroken. But then following her leaving and their Divorce he rarely saw their son, no more than twice a year. However that was still more regular than how often he saw his daughter from his first Marriage.

I loved the fact that a chance meeting between two young people at University led to a marriage and the birth of a much wanted child, then to a separation and divorce.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By rosalie zhao on July 31, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Having stumbled upon Susan's website quite some time ago, I've been anxiously awaiting the release of her memoir. I felt like I could relate to much of her posts on her website--her nostalgia over the time spent living and traveling in Asia as well as her passion for Chinese culture and language. Being married to a Chinese man and living in China myself, I was very curious to learn more about her first marriage and her experiences with her husband and in-laws.

Susan's memoir did not disappoint. I devoured it in about a day; it reads like a novel. Her story is intriguing, though frustrating to read. I could relate to some of Susan's struggles, particularly about practices regarding postpartum and childcare (I just had my first child), but I honestly thought I'd have more sympathy for her. Admittedly, there were times I wanted to put my hands into the book and shake her. Stand up for yourself! Don't be so naive! And eventually she wasn't so naive and did stand up for herself. As for Cai, his emotional abuse angered and saddened me, yet I could help but want to know more about him. How did he feel? Why was he this way? And what was he up to all those nights?

Overall, a good read, especially for anyone interested in love and dating cross-culturally.
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