Lisa N's Reviews > The Foremost Good Fortune

The Foremost Good Fortune by Susan      Conley
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May 16, 11

Read from May 08 to 16, 2011

Author Susan Conley moved with her husband, who was fluent in Mandarin, and two young sons to China for a couple of years. While living in Beijing, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, necessitating a brief return trip to the States for her surgery and chemo.

Interesting to be a part of their adventures, as they become immersed in a new culture, her sons adapt to their new school, and she slowly learns the language and makes friends, then tries to make sense of her disease.

One of her first impressions of Beijing was “smoke and spit.” The air pollution and smog sound disgusting, her husband describing it as “air thick as leek soup.”

I found the chapter “Homing Pigeon,” very amusing. On the night her mother arrives for a three week visit, they are playing Monopoly when a pigeon smacks into their apartment window and lands on the ledge. The Ayi, or domestic helper, opens the window and tries to catch the bird yelling, “Hao chi!” (good food). Her boys are both screaming and crying while she is trying to explain to the Ayi that they are not hungry for pigeon soup.

I thought it was sad that she was uncomfortable talking to her sons about religion. Her 5-year-old brings up the subject of God while they are riding in a van: “I’m looking out the window for something I can distract Aidan with….I’m not up for a talk about God.” A few chapters later, he asks her which God she believes in: “I volley. I don’t want to have to find another way to explain that I’m not sure what I believe. That I’m still figuring it out like he is.”

Interesting memoir—she says a lot in a seemingly superficial style.

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