The Courageous True Story of Three Generations of Chinese Women and their Journey from East to West
A modern day Wild Swans - an extraordinary, moving account of the lives of three generations of Chinese women
Spanning almost a hundred years, this rich and evocative true story recounts the lives of three generations of remarkable Chinese women. Their extraordinary journey takes us from the brutal poverty of village life in mainland China, to newly prosperous 1930s Hong Kong and finally to the UK. Their lives were as dramatic as the times they lived through.
A love of food and a talent for cooking pulled each generation through the most devastating of upheavals. Helen Tse's grandmother, Lily Kwok, was forced to work as an amah after the violent murder of her father. Crossing the ocean from Hong Kong in the 1950s, Lily honed her famous chicken curry recipe. Eventually she opened one of Manchester's earliest Chinese restaurants where her daughter, Mabel, worked from the tender age of nine. But gambling and the Triads were pervasive in the Chinese immigrant community, and they tragically lost the restaurant. It was up to Helen and her sisters, the third generation of these exceptional women, to re-establish their grandmother's dream.
Sweet Mandarin shows how the most important inheritance is wisdom, and how recipes - passed down the female line - can be the most valuable heirloom.
“Read this book. It is the story of an amazing family - three generations of Chinese women and their sweet and sour, hot and bitter lives”
Xinran, author of THE GOOD WOMEN OF CHINA
“Sweet Mandarin is a banquet of family stories that take us from a small Chinese village to cosmopolitan Hong Kong and urban Manchester.Along the way, the ingredients of special dishes and a rich life are added:a homemade stock of hard life,a pound of tragedy, a spoonful of daring, a dash of curses, and dollop after dollop of sheer will.This is a family memoir of survival and victories, luck and determination, and perpetual mounds of dirty dishes waiting to be washed.”
Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club
“An amazing and charming read”
“Tse captures the drama, colour and particularly the flavours of Lily's life”
Scotland on Sunday
“Helen Tse tells a griping tale of struggle, laughter, love and food that marks Sweet Mandarin as a must read book. It is not only an immigrant account of life but also a universal touching story of survival that will move your soul as well”
“The hiss of the wok and the scent of stir-fried vegetables practically leap out of Helen Tse's book”
“Inspiring...the detailed descriptions of Chinese food are vivid to say the least, and will definitely set your tummy rumbling. This is a real testament to the triumph of the human spirit over adversity and to how you can control your own destiny”
“Sweet Mandarin is a story that unfolds beautifully but like an orange, it is both sweet and bitter”
“Helen Tse's "Sweet Mandarin", is not only a product of culinary history, but a sober reflection of the evolution of modern China in the last 70 years or so. It all typified a sweet tale of Chinese courage in the face of changes in the world. It also typified the sorrowful state of modern Britain, as her Mancunian restaurant was burgled and ransacked by local thugs. Not that such vandalism could break the indomitable Chinese spirit of such girls, as the Tse sisters were brought up and taught to be brave”
David Tang, Chinese entrepreneur
“In our world of many cultures we seem to focus on those things that separate us. The two very important things that connect us worldwide are family and food. Wherever we go we all wish to be family, and food is the common thread that connects us all. The Tse Family and their beautifully written book, Sweet Mandarin, clearly demonstrates we are all family; and that simply, home-cooked food is the best way to show your love to your family of relatives and friends.In good times and sad times food connects us all”
Art Smith, Oprah's chef
“a heartrending and tender story of three generations of Chinese women who transform their lives”
Wall Street Journal