This poignant book about a young woman’s experiences during China’s Cultural Revolution is in a same genre as the popular local book Tears of the Moon as well as international bestsellers like Wild Swans and Falling Leaves. Weijun Collins was born in China into a prominent and well-educated family. When she was just ten years old her father, once a high-ranking official, was condemned as an enemy of the Communist Party and banished to a labour camp.
Weijun struggled to continue her education but her father’s ‘crime’ eventually rebounded on her and she was sent to the Gobi desert for ten years of terrible hardship and misery. Forced to live in appalling conditions in a cave, with little food, she laboured in sub-zero temperatures – a virtual slave.
Against this background of terrible hardship Weijun managed to teach herself English and eventually escaped from the desert to become a teacher. Her story is layered with a number of romantic episodes: she has a brief unsuccessful marriage to a childhood sweetheart; and a scandalous and ultimately damaging love affair with a much younger man. Weijun was eventually assisted to New Zealand and has begun a new, much happier life.
This book gives the reader real insight into the daily lives of ordinary people during this terrible period in China’s history.