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Summary

Penguin presents the audio edition of Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister by Jung Chang.

The best-known modern Chinese fairy tale is the story of three sisters from Shanghai who, for most of the 20th century, were at the centre of power in China. It was sometimes said that ‘one loved money, one loved power and one loved her country’, but there was far more to the Soong sisters than these caricatures. As China battled through a hundred years of wars, revolutions and seismic transformations, each sister played an important, sometimes critical role and left an indelible mark on history.

Red Sister, Ching-ling, married Sun Yat-sen, founding father of the Chinese republic, and later became Mao’s vice chair. Little Sister, May-ling, was Madame Chiang Kai-shek, first lady of the pre-Communist Nationalist China and a major political figure in her own right. Big Sister, Ei-ling, was Chiang’s unofficial main adviser. She made herself one of China’s richest women - and her husband Chiang’s prime minister. All three sisters enjoyed tremendous privilege and glory but also endured constant attacks and mortal danger. They showed great courage and experienced passionate love as well as despair and heartbreak. The relationship between them was highly charged emotionally, especially once they had embraced opposing political camps and Ching-ling dedicated herself to destroying her two sisters’ world.

Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister is a gripping story of love, war, exile, intrigue, glamour and betrayal which takes us on a monumental journey, from Canton to Hawaii and New York, from exiles’ quarters in Japan and Berlin to secret meeting rooms in Moscow, and from the compounds of the Communist elite in Beijing to the corridors of power in democratic Taiwan. In a group biography that is by turns intimate and epic, Jung Chang reveals the lives of three extraordinary women who helped shape the history of 20th-century China.

©2019 Jung Chang (P)2019 Penguin Audio

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What listeners say about Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister

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Reader should have been coached on pronunciation.

I am totally absorbed by this .As an avid reader of Jung Chang I think it an equal to all her previous works.
My only issue with it is with the reader.I feel she should have been coached on the pronunciation of many of the peoples and Chinese provinces names .She seems to get stuck on ' Chiang Kai Shek ' every single time to the point where I am shouting at my player: ' Come on you've said it over 100 times now surely you can string thosw three names together!'
I n every other respect a fantastic book.Highly recommended.

4 people found this helpful

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Excellent. I couldn't put it down.

I have urged so many people to read this wonderful book. A real feat to produce.

2 people found this helpful

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Informative and well written

Great historical story. The narrator is excellent. Three sisters on different journeys at this time.

1 person found this helpful

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Narrator sounds like she’s still learning to read

Would have been much better to have found a native Chinese actor to read this. Not only does narrator struggle with Chinese words (she sounds like a mother-in-law from the Cotswolds trying to be terribly accurate in her pronunciation after that nice young man came to the W.I to talk to them all about Chinese history).
I enjoy the History behind this but do wonder at the author’s poetic license unless she had an exhaustive archive at her disposal.

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It’s not in my librart!

I pre booked this, but can not download to diary even though it says it’s my library. Please help!

2 people found this helpful

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Good story, Bad Pronounction

A compelling tale of the three women at the heart of modern China. No new ground broken but a good narrative introduction to some of the major players in modern Chinese history. The narrator's Chinese pronunciation leaves something to be desired though

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Very engaging and insightful storytelling

I enjoyed this book very much, except for the narrator's pronunciation of foreign names, which made it very confusing and frustrated to listen to from time to time.

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Fascinating story, terrible narration

If you know anything at all about China, reading this book will fill in a lot of very interesting gaps. I studied Chinese history for six years, and so much for what Jung Chang has laid out here about these important sisters simply wasn't in the books. But DON'T listen to this reading of it. Joanna David has not been drilled in Chinese pronunciation, and even some English words are strangely beyond her, especially 'surveillance' and 'surveilling', which she pronounces as 'surveyance' and 'surveying'. She is simply out of her depth, and doesn't sound confident, even though the writing is.

I agree with the reviewer who said a Chinese-American, or Chinese-savvy American would have been a better choice. David insisted on doing American accents (not good ones) for the Americans in the story, but the sisters learned to speak English in the United States, and she didn't change her accent for them. I'd say, in fact, that non-fiction books like this could be better without the reader reaching for all the accents, unlike fiction books which are great if they are more or less performed.

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great story, An inspiring history narration

I loved the story, very inspiring. I didn't like that much the narrator as the Chinese names with an English accent where a bit confusing, I would have suggested a Chinese-american narrator to read this. but overal, a great book. I am a fan of Jung chang so I definitely would read the other books.

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A rich story of three extraordinary women

The content is truly gripping as Jung Chang unfolds the lives of three sisters who were at the heart of Chinese and Taiwanese history in the first half of the twentieth century. Their different characters and the worlds they lived in give much food for thought, including the relationships between the USA and China and Russia and China, and the links between religion, commerce and politics. Many times I was struck by the discrepancy between how the characters seem to have seen themselves, and how I would now assess them.

It was a pity that the book was a little spoiled by the hesitant and sometimes ponderous reading. Whilst Joanna David's voice is beautifully clear and melodious, her lack of confidence / training with all foreign names (especially the Chinese ones) led to pauses and over-emphasis, and occasionally she missed the intonation and punctuation of otherwise straightforward sentences, obscuring their meaning until I could work out the punctuation for myself.

Despite that, I much enjoyed listening to the book, which set me looking up references and trying to find out more.