I read the Good Earth many years ago, and felt I had a modicum of knowledge of Chinese culture. However, much of Mao Tse Tungs's reign befuddled me. Until I read Dreams of Joy, I had a distored image of China's path from independence to Communism. But I could understand their longing for communal priority based on their mind-set of the whole being more important than the one.
Dreams of Joy follows Joy, a young adult from the United States back to China, where she wants to help build the country in the late 1950s. She must give up many of her rights and expectations in order to do so. Her mother follows her to China to try to get her to come back. This story is about Joy's gradual disenchantment with Mao's new system of government. But only when she is in too deep to back out (married to a Chinese peasant and pregnant) does Joy finally realize the mistake she has made.
I listened to Dreams of Joy on CD, and would sit in the car for a few more minutes just to see what happened. Although it was 13 CDs long, I enjoyed every one.