Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Helen Tse's "Sweet Mandarin"

Helen Tse graduated from Cambridge University in law and worked as a tax attorney with Clifford Chance (London and Hong Kong) and then with PricewaterhouseCoopers where she won the Young Accountant of the Year Award 2006 for her work on helping companies invest in China.

She applied “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Sweet Mandarin: The Courageous True Story of Three Generations of Chinese Women and Their Journey from East to West, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Sweet Mandarin tells the story of 1950s Hong Kong when my grandmother, Lily Kwok worked as an amah to one of the most powerful and privileged families of the colony, the Woodmans. Surprisingly, Lily and Mrs Woodman senior, whom she looked after, became good friends, something unheard of in this master-servant set up. One day, Mrs Woodman senior asked to see where Lily lived. Lily was afraid of disclosing the crumbling, dirty shack which Lily called home but had to oblige this request.

Mrs Woodman gasped when she saw the state her friend lived in. 'How can Hong Kong call itself a British colony when you live in… in this medieval place?' Neither she nor Lily had an answer.

Mrs Woodman senior was instrumental in Lily emigrating to the UK and we are indebted to Mrs Woodman who even in death, kept Lily in the will. My grandmother used the money left to her to become the first Chinese woman to set up a Chinese restaurant in the UK.

Sweet Mandarin, (a real life Joy Luck Club) is a true story about three generation of Chinese women and their journey from East to West. Endorsed by Amy Tan and Oprah's Chef, Art Smith, as "beautifully written," and chosen by Barnes and Noble in their Great New Writers' Selection, Sweet Mandarin has been shortlisted for the Portico Library non-fiction book award. The Wall Street Journal says it is "a tender heart rending story" and Metro says its "fascinating." Also dramatized for the BBC, it is the lead book to celebrate the Beijing Olympic Games. This biography is used in schools worldwide for history and culture lessons.
Learn more about the book and author at the Sweet Mandarin website.

--Marshal Zeringue