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From the author of A Many Splendored Thing and other exotic chronicles: a tale of post-WW II China, soggy at the beginning, with many slick short cuts, but engaging and convincing when dealing with the twists and turns of the Mao regime's effect on one family and its circle. In 1944, when Chiang Kai-shek rules Chungking with warlord tyranny, Stephanie Ryder, 21, daughter of Texas aircraft manufacturer Heston, arrives as a cub magazine reporter: she soon is involved in an enraged attack on Hsu, a brutal officer who kicks a pregnant woman. And this transgression leads her to the Communist compound at Yenan, where she's warmly welcomed--especially by Dr. Jen Yong, whom she marries. After the war, then, Stephanie is lovingly received by Yong's family in Shanghai; their son, Winter Treasure, is born in 1948 as the Liberation Army enters Peking. But the couple will slowly be forced apart: Yong is shabbily treated by Stephanie's father; her brother Jimmy will die in Korea; in China there are purges, demonstrations of hostility against foreigners. So eventually, worn by stress, tired of apologizing for being American, and numbed by Yong's tactic of ""smile and survive,"" Stephanie returns to the US (where they're purging ""Communists"" instead of ""Capitalists""). There she gives birth to daughter Swallow; self-sacrificing Yong urges her to stay; she takes over her deceased father's business and becomes a female tycoon, even takes a lover. Meanwhile, in China, Yong courageously and doggedly works for the good. . . while Little Pond (son of that abused pregnant woman) is searching for Hsu to take revenge. . . while Hsu eventually gets free and takes his revenge on Stephanie by killing Yong. And finally, then, Stephanie returns to China after the thaw, to grieve with her Chinese family. True, China hands may balk at some simplifications. But this is nonetheless an empathic view of an often bewildering period and society--and a fascinating counterweight to the more elitist Spring Moon.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1982
Publisher: Bantam