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Good Chinese Wife: A Love Affair with China Gone Wrong

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  562 ratings  ·  107 reviews
A stunning memoir of an intercultural marriage gone wrong

When Susan, a shy Midwesterner in love with Chinese culture, started graduate school in Hong Kong, she quickly fell for Cai, the Chinese man of her dreams. As they exchanged vows, Susan thought she'd stumbled into an exotic fairy tale, until she realized Cai--and his culture--where not what she thought.

In her rivetin
Paperback, 337 pages
Published July 29th 2014 by Sourcebooks (first published January 1st 2014)
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Mar 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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As a lover of Asian culture, I especially loved this memoir! Kason returns to Hong Kong for her post-graduate studies in the early 90s after a high school trip. An aficionado of Chinese culture, language and customs, she plans on relocating permanently after finishing school.

Things change when she meets her Chinese Prince Charming, Cai, a Taoist Musical Studies graduate student from Mainland China. After a whirlwind “Chinese courtship,” Kason finds herself married to Cai, his extended family, an
So, long-winded story time: My best friend is a girl we'll call "Mari." One day, in her early twenties, Mari went on an island vacation, and there she fell in love.

Let's call him "Henry." I was happy Mari was in love; she'd had her heart broken in her teens and I thought it was high time she had a new relationship. For Henry, she was willing to sacrifice. For him she left her job, her family, her country. They shared his apartment; they got a dog; she found a new job and learned his language. T
I would have rated this book four stars, then I decided to reduce one, because of the repetitive theme of the author excusing her husband's bad behavior on "cultural differences". It took 40 chapters for the penny to drop and she begins to admit she married an ass****. The whole title of the book is misleading, love affairs with any sociopathic jerks are destined to go wrong, but what does that have to do with China? Her marriage was doomed regardless of race or culture if she married the wrong ...more
Jacki (Julia Flyte)
Jun 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Moral: Don't marry men from other countries and cultures whom you have only know a short time.

Susan Blumberg-Kason grew in suburban Chicago and from an early age was fascinated by China. After graduating from college in the US, she seizes the opportunity to do a Masters degree in Hong Kong. There the somewhat shy and sheltered student meets a handsome Chinese boy called Cai. After only a few months he proposes, warning her almost immediately afterwards that sometimes he can lose his temper but i
Kim Fay
Aug 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
While reading this book, I found myself intrigued by the calm I felt in the writing. I could feel the peace the author had already made with the part of her life she was writing about, but at the same time, this did not stop the story from being compelling - a quiet book that is a page turner is an art anymore. Memoirs now are so melodramatic, or have some crazy hook such as my-mom-was-a-trapeze-artist-my-dad-ate-out-of-dumpsters-I-overcame-addiction and I MUST tell someone about it all. To be h ...more
Aug 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
When first we meet Susan, a young American woman studying in Hong Kong, we see her as eager and inexperienced — a lover of Chinese culture who is quickly romanced by fellow student Cai, so handsome and sure. Through innocent, intellectual evening chats and patience, Cai courts Susan — and proposes very quickly. Susan, entranced and bewitched by him, agrees.

From there, it unravels.

Questionable relationships. Porn addiction. Extramarital issues. Abandonment, “peep shows,” detachment. Coldness. Thr
Apr 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
There are aspects of this book I could give a 2 star and some I could give a 5. For honesty it gets a 6. For my enjoyment, it gets about a 3. But I couldn't put it down because I HAD to know what/ when her out was going to be. And if it included losing her child. As with other memoirs I have read about expat marriages and child custody or kidnapping.

That Susan could have attributed all of these events and attributions of her relationship with Cai to a difference in cultural perception or habit?
Aug 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: asian-books
We know going into it that this will not end well from the title. Although this is a memoir of an American girl(Chicagoan at that!) who married a Chinese man, it was extremely suspenseful. Like many a twenty something, Susan confused attraction for love. Like many a twenty something she felt like an outsider and was flattered when a handsome man showed her attention. She ignored early warning signals because she was too young and/or experienced to recognize them or she dismissed them because she ...more
Karen Ng
My only comment about this book is that the author's Ex-Chinese husband probably has some kind of mental/social disorder which is not limited to a certain race.
Sep 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfic, china, ebook
“Good Chinese Wife” is a new memoir published by Sourcebooks, and is a poignant tale expats should enjoy about the overlap of China and the West. Susan Blumberg-Kason details her unfortunate marriage to a Chinese music scholar, as they meet while studying in Hong Kong and then travel to his hometown in Hubei Province before eventually settling in San Francisco, California.

The central question posed by their troubled relationship is whether their differences were due to culture or personality. In
Jul 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
A review copy of this book was generously provided by the publisher and it truly arrived at the perfect time. I’m currently planning a small overseas wedding and it seems like most of my friends are moving, welcoming a new child or going through a divorce. The issues discussed in Good Chinese Wife have been at the forefront of my mind over the last few months and I found it easy to relate to the joys and frustrations shared in this memoir.

When I first read the description, I was concerned that t
Jul 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing

The best travel literature is written by people who live in a country, submit to its culture, and love it—warts and all. Susan Blumberg-Kason in her new memoir, Good Chinese Wife, does all of that and much more. She traveled to China, moved to Hong Kong, and fell in love with a man from a small Chinese town. And reader, she married him--and lived to tell the tale.

Few women of her time were as freshly-minted as Susan was when she went off to graduate school in pre-handover Hong Kong. Her geograph
Jul 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
When the author met a handsome Chinese man whilst studying in Hong Kong and he asked her to marry him, she thought all her dreams had come true. For the next 5 years, in China and in the US, she did all she could to be a Good Chinese Wife. But ultimately the dream turned sour and the cultural differences between the couple, plus her husband’s extremely selfish behaviour, meant she was forced to make the difficult decision to leave the marriage.
This is a frank and painfully honest account of a cr
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Received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

As someone who has straddled two cultures for her whole life and for whom Hong Kong is a second home, I jumped on the chance to read this book. After all, what better way to gain an insight into the difficulties arising from the marriage of two cultures than to read what happened when it doesn't work.

Well, I think it's fair to say that after reading this, I know to be extremely wary of any man from the mainland China provinces wh
Meg - A Bookish Affair
Aug 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2014, memoir
"Good Chinese Wife" is the memoir of Susan, who goes to study in Hong Kong and China as a young woman. She is fascinated with the people and the culture. She meets a man who is much older than she is, Cai. He is worldly and debonair and she falls for him. They get married quickly in order to sightsee around China and almost immediately, they begin having problems. Cai becomes very controlling of everything Susan does. Cai also seems to be hiding a lot of big secrets of his own. When the couple h ...more
Patty Mccormick
Aug 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
I liked this one a lot! What struck me most is that this is Susan’s real life experiences. Cai would have been difficult to be married to even if he was American!! It probably should have been called Bad Chinese Husband. That doesn’t sound very nice though and probably wouldn’t sell many books. LOL. Susan blames herself for most of the problems in their marriage. Why do women think everything is their fault? I think had her child been a daughter her life might have been drastically different. My ...more
Jun 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books that I have ever read, Susan tells the story of her marriage to Cai, a man that she meets while in graduate school in Hong Kong. She talks about the trials and tribulations of being with a man who expects too much of her, without him giving anything in return. I was very impressed with Susan's style of writing; it was explanatory and detailed, talking about all of the issues that she faced from her perspective. There were many characters of the book that were introduced whi ...more
Peter Tieryas
Dec 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Susan Blumberg-Kason transcends culture with this moving narrative.
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
Very amateur, more like a blog.
Aug 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
There are many thoughts when looking back on this story. My main 'takeaway' from Susan Kasons' tale of 'intercultural' marriage is that one MUST have self esteem before entering any relationship. Second, one must take time (yes, investment is hard for many) to see if the honeymoon phase is just that. One step more, to see if the feelings of one are reciprocated by the other. Third, one must be able to state his/her thoughts when in 'said' relationship. If you find yourself holding back your thou ...more
Jun 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
It was as if I was reading a familiar novel, in a far place I had traveled to. Susan wrote about aspects, customs, places ( Hong Kong ) that I had learned about. Even certain behaviors and words in Mandarin, were familiar.
To coin a phrase which I dislike, " East is east, and west is west, and never the twain shall meet," this was all too true in her account of her marriage experience. I fail to view it as a romance.
Although stereotyped by many, I have discovered that relationships between Asian
Autumn Ashbough
Jun 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
I picked up this book with a sense of foreboding, like I would any book where you just know the romantic interest is going to -- at the very least -- be emotionally abusive and it's not going to end well. The author does nothing to dispel this sense, but she does an excellent job of capturing the beautiful, blissful moments that occurred just enough to keep her with her then-husband, Cai. Even while you're mentally urging Susan to run, you understand her insistence that if she can just be the go ...more
Kim Weiss
Nov 05, 2014 rated it liked it
I enjoy a good "marriage gone wrong" book from time to time, but this one was just OK. The story just wasn't dramatic enough. Like Betty Mahmoody in "Not Without My Daughter," Susan married a man of a different culture and risked losing her child in another country. Betty escaped over the border from Iran to Turkey over several mountain ranges. Susan flew from San Francisco to Chicago and moved in with her rich parents.

Like Dina Matos McGreevey, author of "Silent Partner," Susan's husband proba
Aug 12, 2016 rated it liked it
In my seeming never-ending quest to understand culture(s) and the cross-cultural experience, this book gave me some good food for thought. Unlike some reviewers, I get the narrator second-guessing herself and her difficulty in setting healthy, appropriate boundaries, especially as a young person. I can understand her confusion, "is this a matter of cultural differences or is what's going on just this individual/relationship?" particularly the deeper she goes in her marriage and process of accult ...more
Kathryn Berla
Nov 10, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Since when does writing about leaving your husband who watches porn, hangs out too much with his friends, and (possibly) cheats, qualify as a memoir? Even if they are from different cultures. And how do you publicly accuse him of your unproved suspicions regarding his sexual proclivity and infidelities when he's still alive, still the father of your son, and still supposedly a somewhat friend of yours?
Brianna DuMont
Jul 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The best memoirs whisk you away seamlessly into someone else's life. I enjoyed my escapism and devoured the book in two days. While the book centers on Susan and Cai's relationship, I enjoyed experiencing mainland China, the food, sights, sounds, and smells and learning about the differences between there and Hong Kong.
Dec 30, 2014 rated it liked it
An enjoyable, easy read that gave insight into the difference between the Hong Kong and Mainland Chinese mindset. Particularly interesting if you live in HK, China, or are married to someone from either place.
Travis Lee
Jul 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
A self-described wallflower, Susan wants to leave behind her mundane upbringing in suburban Chicago. China, the place for expat reinvention since 1979, provides her with a way: Cai Jun, a graduate student in Music from Hubei province.

The night Susan meets him she’s locked out of her dorm room, and after he returns her phone card, she talks to her friend Janice about this attractive exotic guy:

“He couldn’t understand the English instructions, so he didn’t even use the card,” I told Janice.

“I hear
Zoë S. Roy
Aug 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Good Chinese Wife: A Love Affair with China Gone Wrong by Susan Blumberg-Kason tells the author’s cross-cultural experience in China. Her love for Chinese language and culture leads her to study and live in Hong Kong. As an idealist, she gropes her way with the Instruction for Chinese Women and Girls by the first known female Chinese historian (35-116 AD), Ban Zhao, to be a good Chinese wife. However, her marriage with a Chinese man turns out to be a heart-wrenching story. In fact, Ban Zhao’s In ...more
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