Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Sweet Mandarin: The Courageous True Story of Three Generations of Chinese Women and Their Journey from East to West” as Want to Read:
Sweet Mandarin: The Courageous True Story of Three Generations of Chinese Women and Their Journey from East to West
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Sweet Mandarin: The Courageous True Story of Three Generations of Chinese Women and Their Journey from East to West

3.59  ·  Rating Details  ·  289 Ratings  ·  62 Reviews
Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
Tse knew she was honoring her Chinese family's tradition when she and her sisters opened the Sweet Mandarin restaurant in Manchester, England. She had inherited many delicious family recipes, which had been perfected by her mother and grandmother. What she didn't fully realize was the path her ancestors had paved for her success
...more
MP3 Book, 0 pages
Published January 12th 2009 by AudioGO (first published February 1st 2007)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Sweet Mandarin, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Sweet Mandarin

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,175)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Ladiibbug
Memoir

"Spanning almost a hundred years, this evocative memoir recounts the lives of three generations of remarkable Chinese women" (back cover)

Helen Tse recounts her family's story beginning with her grandmother's birth in 1918 near Guangzhou, China. She was born into extreme poverty in a China still recovering from devastating losses from World War I. The 1918-19 Spanish Flu epidemic killed 20 million people, more than the war itself.

The women of Tse's family struggle with desperate poverty, an
...more
Kathleen Hagen
Sweet Mandarin, by Helen See, narrated by Liz Sutherland, produced by BBC-WW, downloaded from audible.com.

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. Helen Tse's grandmother was forced to work
...more
Julie (73)
Sep 19, 2010 Julie (73) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-read, chinese
A great read for me and the book flows well making it easily read in a couple of sittings. What I found different about this book was that as well as it being the true story of Lily and working hard to get herself out of the poverty in China that she was born into, was that this story showed just how easily that she managed to lose it all again, yet she managed to still have that focus and worked so hard to get it back. It also describes how Lily's family were the first chinese faces to be seen ...more
Philia
Aug 11, 2014 Philia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: asian-flavour
A beautiful account of a family history across three generations of determined women.

From the early 1920s in the old Canton village in China, to the early colonial years from the 1930s' to 50s' in Hong Kong, to another life chapter across the seas via SS Canton to Middleton in the U.K., we follow the rises and falls, the battle and determination of this family over a period of neatly a century.

The period in history ; the locations, the family ties between grandma, mom and daughter; living abroad
...more
Georgie
May 08, 2015 Georgie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating insight into the life and culture of four generations of Chinese women.

Helen Tse traces her family's story through four generations of women - her great-grandmother, Tai Po, her grandmother, Lily, her mother, Mabel, and herself and her two sisters. The story starts in the Guangzhou province of China, in a tiny, poor, rural village, then moves through Hong Kong, then Somerset, Middleton, and Manchester in England and then back to Hong Kong and Guangzhou. Two things stand out through
...more
Patricia
Sep 28, 2010 Patricia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Helen Tse's true story of her family's history and journey to England where they established themselves in Manchester and opened a restaurant. Helen is there operating Sweet Mandarin. I would love to go there and order Lily Kwok's Chicken Curry! UPDATE NEWSFLASH-in 2014 my sister, Robin, and I are going to England and Scotland and will definately be going to meet Helen and enjoy the food at Sweet Mandarin!
Eleanor
Mar 03, 2009 Eleanor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a sweet book!! An amazing journey for the women in this family, their struggles and hardships, and the love of food and family recipes that brings everyone together around the table whether in a small China village to Hong Kong and then to Manchester, England. Something for everyone in this touching story.
Mary
Oct 20, 2011 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was the second of my holiday reading books in September. I went away fro a quiet week with my friend to chill, read and test out the restaurants.

I picked this book up mainly because of the local connection. The author and her sisters own a restaurant in Manchester's Northern Quarter. This is the story of her family and how the generations moved from a small village in China to owning what many say is their favourite Chines restaurant in Manchester.

The main character for the first part of th
...more
Louise
Jul 30, 2012 Louise rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
This family suffered tragedy after tragedy but managed to pick themselves up and keep moving forward in spite of the most horrible conditions and abject poverty. The strength of these Chinese women is astounding and a tribute to the culture they were born in to.

Lily, the matriarch of the family was a strong, stubborn and courageous woman who taught her children the value of hard work and making a dollar in spite of the long hard hours that had to be put in to make the minimum amount of money. L
...more
Stephanie
Jan 16, 2009 Stephanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
A beautiful memoir about three generations of Chinese women and their hardships, struggles, and sheer determination to make better lives for themselves and their families.

Lily Kwok, Helen Tse's grandmother, IMO is really the star of the book. She pulled through multiple seemingly helpless situations when most people would've given up. Although she grew up in a society where women were still completely controlled by men, she chose to take her and her children's destiny into her own hands. She sp
...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by JodiG. for TeensReadToo.com

For Lily Kwok the world did not seem to offer much hope. In addition to being a female in a male-dominated society, she was also born into a severely poverty stricken village in rural China. In 1918, there didn't seem to be much of a chance for a different life. SWEET MANDARIN is the story of how three generations of women, beginning with Lily, made their way out of the oppressive confines of culture and poverty to become successful businesswomen in their o
...more
Kathy Chung
Mar 29, 2011 Kathy Chung rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: china, life, asian
Review AT : Mama Kucing Meow : Sweet Mandarin By Helen Tse

Reviewed on 6th December 2010

At first I thought this is just another novel coz I bought this book due to the author's name. Love reading books from Asian writers.

Later when I read through, I discovered that this is not just any novel. It's a true story of the courageous journey by 3 generations of Chinese women in a family.

Helen Tse's grandmother, Lily Kwok, came from a very poor farming family in China. When her great grandfather tried t
...more
Teddy
Jan 28, 2009 Teddy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Memior and historical memoir lovers
Shelves: read-in-2009
When Cambridge educated lawyer Helen Tse decided to give up her career to go back to her roots and open up a Chinese restaurant with her two sisters, her elders thought she was nuts. Her grandmother and mother work hard so that Helen and her sister's could all get good educations and not have the worries and work that a restaurant owner has. Lily, her grandmother and Mabel, her mother should know, they both had owned restaurants.


Before deciding to open the restaurant, Helen decided to take a jou
...more
Lisa
Jul 29, 2009 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Inspiring book. Made me think a lot about the strength of women and how family/cultural heritage and how we move mountains for generations to come. Good insight into China and immigrants. It is a nice story-made better by the fact that it is real. Favorite lines: "When you cook, you share your heart. So cook enthusiastically" Isn't this true about anything in life? One of the most beautiful lines in book/best metaphors when she describes her grandmother's hometown in countryside "old China" "whe ...more
Kay
Sweet Mandarin, by Helen Tse is a delightful read about three generations of Chinese women that affirms the strength and resiliency of the feminine spirit. A memoir that reads more like a novel, takes the reader from Hong Kong to England and back.

This true story kept the pages turning! Unlike recent books about ancient Chinese heroines, these women live in the twentieth century. A lot of the old ways still exist but this family embraces the blending of cultures without losing the strength of the
...more
Kay
Jun 21, 2009 Kay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sweet Mandarin, by Helen Tse is a delightful read about three generations of Chinese women that affirms the strength and resiliency of the feminine spirit. A memoir that reads more like
a novel, takes the reader from Hong Kong to England and back.
This true story kept the pages turning! Unlike recent books about ancient Chinese heroines, these women live in the twentieth century. A lot of the old ways still exist but this family embraces the blending of cultures without losing the strength of thei
...more
Catherine
Apr 05, 2009 Catherine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written account of Tse's family, from her great-grandparents, grandparents, parents, and then catches the reader up to the present to Helen and her siblings.

The main character of the book is Tse's grandmother, Lily, and her engaging story of overcoming tremendous hardships. The story begins in a small village in Guangzhou, China in 1918 and leads the reader through a journey in time and across the ocean to the U.K.

The writing is straightforward but doesn't lack character and poignan
...more
Diane
Mar 26, 2011 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Being brought up in a three-generational household, I was eager to read this true account of three generations of a Chinese family. Lily, the grandmother, survived through pure determination; this trait was passed down to Mabel and her children. Throughout their lives in China, Hong Kong, and finally England, the love of cooking was constant. Mabel's daughters ended up building a restaurant in Manchester and carrying on their grandmother's dream. Good read about amazing people.
Bechai Jalea
Feb 13, 2010 Bechai Jalea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this book was on sale (the very reason why i bought it)... i've been avoiding reading it because i thought its too serious and i would read it only when my "book loot" run out..

but then again, i'm glad i bought and read it... it is inspiring, and surprisingly, entertaining... i should have read it before i went to Hong Kong, then i would have appreciated the country more.

Suzanne
Jun 17, 2009 Suzanne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't say enough good things about this book. Very well written,more like fiction,in that sense. I genuinely came to know these women as young girls, then women with families of their own, and listening to their dreams and plans. The persistence of sticking to the carrying out of their dreams, even in the face of great obstacles to overcome. Read the book.....you'll like it!
Natalie
A nice little book, not particularly well written, but that is more forgivable in a memoir than in other genres. It is a bit over-sentimental, and the allusions between the life of the grandmother in the 1920s and the granddaughter in the present are a overblown. Yet, the story is an interesting one, particularly regarding the issues of identity in a British-Chinese family.
Aileen
Jun 04, 2013 Aileen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting story but the thing that struck me most was how young the children were expected to help in the running of the family business. No wonder with the work ethic instilled in the girls very early in life they are all academically high achievers as well. The old adage that hard work never harmed anyone still rings very true. A very enjoyable read.
Gail
Aug 20, 2008 Gail rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mary
Nov 26, 2009 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quality of life improves for Chinese women from one generation to another. Uplifting book of hope. Enjoyed the culture contrast between the British and Asian worlds. Book has no simple conclusion. Life does get better with effort, but this is always an ongoing process.
Lisa
Sep 04, 2010 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa by: lisalitchfield@aim.com
I particularly enjoyed reading this book as I have a Chinese friend whose parents own a restaurant so I was wondering how much of her life paralleled Helen's. Now that we're studying Mandarin it was also good to get to read a bit about the history & culture. Very enjoyable.
Carissa
Mar 02, 2013 Carissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had difficulty putting this book down as I followed these women from a state of abuse and extreme poverty to a new beginning. The sheer strength that these women exhibited to persevere is unbelievable. This book is a lesson to all women today... anything is possible.
Marie desJardins
There were some interesting parts, but for the most part this was a fairly formulaic memoir/family history of a Chinese family who eventually emigrates to the West. I thought the constant jumping around in time and perspective was distracting and a bit confusing.
Cassandra
This book was really sweet, a touching memoir of survival. Throughout the book, I kept wishing that it was longer, that it would go into more detail. It was a wonderful summary of these three women, but I felt I still had a very outsider's view of them.
Notek
Apr 18, 2010 Notek rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Notek by: saw it in the bookstore
I am currently reading this book and I love it. It is the long story of three generations of Chinese women and their hardships. One tells the story of their success after suffering for a long time. So far its a good read
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 39 40 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Sweet mandarin 1 4 Nov 01, 2011 03:35AM  
  • Sounds of the River: A Young Man's University Days in Beijing
  • Bound Feet & Western Dress
  • The Concubine's Children
  • China Witness: Voices from a Silent Generation
  • Snow Falling in Spring: Coming of Age in China During the Cultural Revolution
  • Paper Daughter: A Memoir
  • The Last Days of Old Beijing: Life in the Vanishing Backstreets of a City Transformed
  • Daughter Of China
  • February Flowers
  • Red Dust: A Path Through China
  • Where Underpants Come From
  • A Leaf in the Bitter Wind: A Memoir
  • The Long March: The True History of Communist China's Founding Myth
  • Fifth Chinese Daughter
  • The Corpse Walker: Real Life Stories, China from the Bottom Up
  • Double Happiness: One Man's Tale of Love, Loss, and Wonder on the Long Roads of China
  • Little Green: Growing Up During the Chinese Cultural Revolution
  • The Lost Daughters of China

Share This Book