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On Gold Mountain Paperback – February 7, 2012
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Lisa See, daughter of novelist Carolyn See, brings a novelist's skill to this sprawling ancestral history. Books tracing the roots of overseas Chinese writers are not uncommon these days, but See uncovered in her family tree a capsule history of the Sino-American diaspora: her great-grandfather, Fong See, founded a California business, married a Caucasian woman and fathered many offspring, and returned periodically to China to redistribute some of his wealth and launch another family. See, a Publishers Weekly writer, has conducted extensive interviews and drawn on family lore for an enthralling saga of ambition, prejudice, love, loyalty, and sorrow--social history at its best. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
This account of a Chinese family's adventures in America over the course of a century offers a tapestry of immigrant life.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Fong See, her great grandfather started making ladies underwear, married Ticie, a Caucasian woman before building a successful antique business. The family's story involves racism, romance, secret marriages and betrayals. Not only does On Gold Mountain tell the story of a family, it documents the history of America from the building of the railroads through the Great Depression into the post war boom of the fifties.
That is a lot of territory to cover. The story is meticulously researched and Ms. See does a good job of keeping the reader's head focused on the family tree. There is a lot going on and people and places to keep track of. In some areas the story dragged on. I felt some parts were important to document for the family but maybe not so interesting to the average reader.
I love Lisa See's fiction much more than this book, but I fully understand her desire to write it. In any event On Gold Mountain is a wide and sweeping history lesson in the people that help to make American the wonderful place it is. And I'm glad I read it. I learned so much.
Gold Mountain was the Chinese nickname for the US back in the 1800's. This book is a family history covering over hundred years, but done in a way I've not seen before, as she not only describes the events that defined the Fong See and Lettice Pruett legacy (her great grandparents), but she also puts herself directly in the mind of all her relatives and ancestors, which at times gives the book the feel of a novel. Lisa See looks like an Irish redhead (there were two redheads in her Chinese/American lineage), but she is 1/4 Chinese, and as a young woman, found solace in her extended and welcoming Chinese family, as her parents were somewhat dysfunctional while she was growing up. It's one reason I suspect that her novels mix Chinese and American cultural themes and characters.
The book actually starts with her great-great grandfather, although he returns to China. However, his son, Fong See, comes and stays (moving from San Francisco to Sacramento to Los Angeles), although he travels extensively for his business. He marries a Caucasian woman, Lettice Pruett, which leads to many interesting and varied cultural and legal conflicts, both in the US and in China. While the US was actively discouraging Asian immigration after the completion of the transcontinental railroad, many were also fascinated with Asian furniture, art, and curios, which became the family business (check out the youtube video for the F. Suie One Company). This is truly an amazing work, and in the addendum, See describes what a work in progress a family history can be, trying to separate family mythology from fact. For anyone with Asian ancestors, Chinese in particular, this feels like a must read book, and for anyone who values what immigration has meant for the US, and the challenges immigrants have faced (and continue to face), this is also a must read book. Five stars from this reader.
Most recent customer reviews
Success came from hard working and sacrifice of the family.
Great love story. Great entertainment.