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The Inn of the Sixth Happiness
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The Inn of the Sixth Happiness

4.23  ·  Rating Details ·  1,064 Ratings  ·  107 Reviews
Rejected by mission agencies, Englishwoman earns the money to send herself to China. There she opens an inn for mule drivers, serves as "foot inspector," and advises the local Mandarin. But when the Japanese invade, she discovers her true destiny---leading 100 orphans across the mountains to safety.
Mass Market Paperback
Published January 1st 1971 by Bantam Books (first published January 1957)
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Michele Brenton
I read this book when I was about ten years old. My grandmother was a missionary in India andshe used to give me 'improving' books to read - this being one of them. Luckily my grandmother had extremely good taste in literature and every 'improving' book she gave me was also immensely readable as this one is. I was especially keen on Gladys Aylward as she was as the title says a small woman. As am I - her story is an inspiration to anyone who may feel that they are too small or insignificant to m ...more
Aug 03, 2011 Rachel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: china
My childhood hero was this obscure missionary who gave her whole life for the people of a rural Chinese province. She was too poor and under-educated to qualify for the mission society, so she purchased a train ticket and road across Europe, Russia, Manchuria (during a border war), and into north-western China. She stopped when her money ran out and opened an inn in the small town where she got off the train. She stopped battles in prison, inspected little girls feet to prevent foot-binding and ...more
Book Concierge
What an extraordinary woman Gladys Aylward was. In 1930 she left England for China entirely on her own volition. She had quit school at age 14, having never passed a single examination (per her own recollection), and had worked as a parlourmaid. But she felt called by God to become a missionary in China, and even though no established organization would consider her application she was determined to fulfill God’s wish. She heard of a lone woman, Mrs Lawson, working in a remote area of China who ...more
Beverley Barrett
Sep 17, 2013 Beverley Barrett rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone, male and female.
Recommended to Beverley by: no one
I have an old copy of this book called The Small woman. It has been the most inspiring book I have ever read. Whenever I feel hard done by I re-read this book and I am rewarded with new courage. This is the story of a tiny framed , humble house maid who was inspired to save her meagre pennies to pay for a ticket from London to China because she was rejected by a Missionary school who said she was too stupid to learn the bible. Her epic journey walking across the Siberian wastelands in the middle ...more
Feb 18, 2009 Robin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
I'm so glad I had an excuse to read this book for a Winter Challenge here on GoodReads. I had watched the movie "Inn of the Sixth Happiness win Ingrid Bergman years and years ago and it was wonderful to be reunited with this truly remarkable woman.

She is truly an inspiration - showing how persistence and not letting anything get in your way will get you your hearts desire.

The story is a real-life telling of the life of Gladys Alyward. She works as a maid in London but is drawn to missionary wor
Sep 01, 2011 Pamela rated it liked it
I'm so glad I didn't give up on this book! It's an amazing true story of Gladys Aylward who gave up her life to travel to China to be a missionary. And she did it alone, traveling dangerously by train through Siberia, without knowing the language and with very little money.

Although the book was a little slow about halfway through (which was why I put it down for a few months & finally picked it back up again), there were several moments throughout the book that made it worth reading.

I'm am
Julie Davis
Oct 24, 2016 Julie Davis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After watching The Inn of the Sixth Happiness I wanted to read the book upon which it was based. As is so often the case, it was much better than the movie it begat.

Gladys Aylward was a Cockney parlormaid when she felt God calling her to go to China. Undaunted when turned down as "unqualified" by the missionary society, she saved up the money on her meagre salary for the long train trip across Russia and Manchuria, which was very dangerous in its own right.

Once in China, she finds her way to an
Catherine Gillespie
Feb 01, 2015 Catherine Gillespie rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
I read an older version of this book, titled "The Small Woman," since republished under a new name, and found it a compelling and utterly fascinating biography of Gladys Aylward. Aylward was a 26 year old parlormaid in England when she felt called to become a missionary to China. Told by a mission board that she didn’t know enough theology and was too old to learn Chinese properly, she saved up her own money, took a train overland to China through Russia, escaped a bad situation in Russia by boa ...more
Apr 11, 2015 Truehobbit rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What an amazing person Gladys Aylward was - how come she's not better known, or is it just me?
I must have bought this because I know the Ingrid Bergman movie "The Inn of the Sixth Happiness", but I'd forgotten all about it. It re-emerged with packing for moving house and I finally read it. I don't think I was aware then the story was based on fact. It is well and sympathetically written, but it is told in the style of a novel, which occasionally made me wonder about the author's sources of info
Xandri Fiori
Jul 27, 2012 Xandri Fiori rated it it was ok
If you wanted something like Into the Wild, someone bravely trekking into unknown territory and trying to mean something to the people they meet, this is a bunch of B.S. It reads mainly like a hobbit woman lugged a suitcase full of Christian bigotry into inner China. If Chris was ever idealistic, brave, adventurous (if stupid), Gladys is simply clueless, arrogant,and annoyingly quaint. I mean, I do have respect for her, but I think a different author would have done her better justice instead of ...more
Hannah Rose
Jul 23, 2014 Hannah Rose rated it it was amazing
I will just say this is my favorite book! My dad gave it to me when I was 9 and it was the first time I ever remember being inspired to live all my life for God, knowing His love in a radical way, and living a life of adventure with God no matter where He would call. I even wrote my graduation speech on Gladys Aylward's life :) god used this humble, willing, fearless woman in mighty ways! I can't wait to talk with her in heaven one day
Dec 04, 2008 Jasmyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the true story of a lady missionary who goes to China and teaches herself Chinese. She's got a lot of grit, especially when China enters a war with Japan and she has to take care of the orphans in her care and transport them away from the war zone. The movie "Inn of the Sixth Happiness" came from this book--and the book was great.
Amazing life of Gladys Aylward, a missionary in China. She braved unspeakable hardships. Her commitment to teach the Chinese people about Christ was remarkable and shamed me.
Jun 24, 2016 MrsRK rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a wonderful, inspiring story. This is not a young-person’s edition nor edited; it is the original book Alan Burgess wrote in 1957 (upon which the 1958 movie, The Inn of the Sixth Happiness, was loosely based) with a “1969 Postscript,” to update readers on “what Gladys has done in the meantime.” A year afterwards she died. Burgess had met Gladys Aylward in 1949 and, according to him, she told him her story. Miss Aylward’s life was riveting and her succinct way of describing her odyssey was, ...more
Patty Demaria
Feb 10, 2017 Patty Demaria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very well written account of Gladys Aylward's missionary work in China preceding WWII, during the Japanese invasion. This book was the basis for the Ingrid Bergman film "Inn of the Sixth Happiness," but there is so much more in the book than the incidents the film uses!
Dec 05, 2012 Adrienne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
In the 1930s, Gladys Alyward was an English housemaid who felt compelled to go to China as a Christian missionary. However, when she tried to be placed as a missionary, she was told she wasn't educated enough and most likely wouldn't be able to learn the language. Rather than accepting defeat, she worked and saved her money until she could afford a train ticket to China and set out on dangerous journey, through warring countries to make it to China where she worked with an elderly missionary to ...more
Dec 26, 2008 Diane rated it it was ok
This is considered a true story but it is not a biography or even a memoir. It is the story of a young British woman Grace Aylward who travels across Siberia to work as a missionary in northern China in the 1930s and 1940's. The author Alan Burgess was a seminary student and journalist and the only source material seems to have been his interview with Aylward. It is an amazing story and I am sure much of it is true. I was suspicious of the portrait of the Nationalist Forces during the war - in e ...more
Martha A.  Galvan
I was at the Bountiful Library and I passed this book. THE SMALL WOMAN, a couple of times. It seemed the book was calling me.

A very good choice.

This book is about Gladys Ayward, who in 1930, left England to serve as a Christian missionary in China.
Did she know Chinese? No. However she had a calling. In the 20 years there, she adopted 5 children, a couple she bought on the street. Some gypsy was selling them for "pennies".
Ms Ayward was known as Ai-weh-deh, this means "the virtuous one".
Besides wo
I loved this amazing true story about an amazing woman, Gladys Aylford. Gladys worked as a parlormaid before deciding she wanted to be a missionary in China. She sought out a school/mission that prepared people for missionary work abroad and was rejected fairly quickly. Her academic skills were low and they were quite certain that she would be unable to learn Chinese. Gladys did not give up, instead she studied on her own and saved every penny until she eventually made contact with an other inde ...more
Monté James
Nov 14, 2014 Monté James rated it really liked it
I would rate this book three and a half stars, as I believe that that is the most honest rating I could give, but because it is impossible I'll generously throw in another half rather than remove one, because I found this book both moving, educational, and a bit exciting at times. Although it took me several months to get through, it is just less than two hundred pages, and only has seventeen chapters. Most persons could comfortably read it in a week, or perhaps two. One of the few things I didn ...more
Jun 02, 2010 Richard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A biography of Grace Aylward who went to China in 1930 to help bring Christianity to the people. She was barely 5 feet in stature but had a giant heart. Her Chinese name given to her by the Chinese people who surrounded her was Ai-weh-deh which translates to The Virtuous One. She earned the trust and love of all those around her. The last half of the book describes her escape and her helping 100 children orphans to escape when the Japanese invaded the Chinese mainland and killed everyone they en ...more
Arlene Starr
Nov 09, 2015 Arlene Starr rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Small Woman by Alan Burgess
It is a good book, her story is condensed and is fast reading. This is the true story of an extra-ordinary woman, Gladys Aylward, who dreamed of going to China as a missionary. She lacked the education and the organizational backing, but determined to reach her goal, traveled across Siberia and made her way to a remote mountain town in China where she joined forces for a time with another independent missionary. Her life is a series of dramatic events, such as, pri
Arlene Starr
Aug 18, 2012 Arlene Starr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Small Woman by Alan Burgess
It is a good book, her story is condensed and is fast reading. This is the true story of an extra-ordinary woman, Gladys Aylward, who dreamed of going to China as a missionary. She lacked the education and the organizational backing, but determined to reach her goal, traveled across Siberia and made her way to a remote mountain town in China where she joined forces for a time with another independent missionary. Her life is a series of dramatic events, such as, pri
Kalendra Dee
Sep 10, 2013 Kalendra Dee rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
As a London parlormaid, Gladys Aylward dreams of going to China as a missionary. Applying at the China Inland Mission, Gladys is told that she is not qualified to be a missionary in China. Undaunted, she manages to save up enough money to travel the dangerous overland route and, with the referral of a prominent former missionary, she finds herself in China as an assistant to a redoubtable woman named Jeannie Lawson. Thus begins her life’s work in China which will intersect with the Japanese inva ...more
Sep 15, 2016 Megan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
To say the life of Gladys Aylward is interesting is an understatement. An unmarried woman with no connections and almost no money travels to China in the 1930s because she feels a calling. After a long (and at times harrowing) trip across Russian and through Japan she arrives in a rural mountain area where foreigners are thought to be "the devil". She begins her life helping an older Missionary start the Inn where they will spread the word of Jesus Christ through stories told during meals. Over ...more
Barbara VA
Sep 20, 2011 Barbara VA rated it really liked it
The story of Gladys Aylward, the Small Woman and her life as a missionary in the mountains of China during the 30's. She was a truly remarkable woman, she came to this life as a untrained missionary, she was not a doctor or even a nurse or a teacher, she came late to her faith, spoke no foreign language yet had a profound influence on her village and the north mountain area of her province. Her journey culminates in a march with 100 children through the war zones, up and over mountains to take t ...more
Christina Knotts
This was very well written. I love reading about great missionaries... great, because they had the utmost faith in our Great God!

Only one thing I did not agree with, was that Gladys actually refused to marry 'for the sake of the Lord.' I don't believe God would have His children keep from marrying in the name of serving Him. Much can be done to serve Him in caring for a husband as well.

I loved how Gladys was a little naive when she first arrived in China. It revealed how missionaries, too, are h
Aug 16, 2011 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A friend has been trying for months to get me to watch her fav old movie..."Inn of the Sixth Happiness". I kept putting her off saying I would, she even had me borrow her dvd. Well finally she handed me the book based on the same woman,knowing I am a big reader. So I took it and opened it that evening. I was captured by the pages to the point of finishing the book the next afternoon. So now I think I may watch the movie now after all ;) Based on a true hero of the people Gladys Alyward this stor ...more
Aug 30, 2009 K. rated it it was amazing
Great biography of an amazing woman.

You'll have to read someone else's review for a better synopsis, but I really liked this book. It was an amazing story. Humans astound me. I just don't have time to do it justice, sorry.

I didn't think the author really caught her faith as it must truly have been, but he did get it in parts.

Funny thing--her inn was really called "The Inn of the Eight Happinesses." I guess when they made it into a movie they liked their title better. Why? Stupids.
Florence Primrose
May 22, 2013 Florence Primrose rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fascinating bigraphy of Gladys Aylward. As a young British woman, a parlormaid, she decided she must go to China as a missionary in 1830. Although she could not obtain organizational backing, she spent all her money to take a train alone across Europe and Russia to try to reach China.

Overcoming staggering obstacles she reached a remote mountain town in northwest China. This is a story of many dramatic events as she converted people to Christianity, became a Chinese citizen, and eventua
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