The Foremost Good Fortune

The Foremost Good Fortune

Book - 2011
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Susan Conley, her husband, and their two young sons say good-bye to their friends, family, and house in Maine for a two-year stint in a high-rise apartment in Beijing, prepared to embrace the inevitable onslaught of new experiences that such a move entails. But Susan can't predict just how much their lives will change.

While her husband is consumed with his job, Susan works on finishing her novel and confronting the challenges of day-to-day life in an utterly foreign country: determining the proper way to buy apples at a Chinese megamarket; bribing her little boys to ride the school bus; fielding invitations to mysterious "sweater parties" and tracking down the faux-purse empire of the infamous Bag Lady; and getting stuck in an elevator, unable to call for help in Mandarin.

Despite the distractions, there are many occasions for joy.  From road trips to the Great Wall and bartering for a "starter Buddha" at the raucous flea market to lighting fireworks in the streets for the Chinese New Year and feasting on the world's best dumplings in back-alley restaurants, they gradually turn their unfamiliar environs into a true home.

Then Susan learns she has cancer.  After undergoing treatment in Boston, she returns to Beijing, again as a foreigner--but this time, it's her own body in which she feels a stranger.  Set against the eternally fascinating backdrop of modern China and full of insight into the trickiest questions of motherhood--How do you talk to children about death?  When is it okay to lie?--this wry and poignant memoir is a celebration of family and a candid exploration of mortality and belonging.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2011
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780307594068
Branch Call Number: B CONLEY
Characteristics: 276 p. ; 25 cm


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ChristchurchLib Aug 10, 2014

"For years, the only "big C" in the Conley family's life was China -- husband Tony often talked of the country he'd backpacked through and fallen in love with; he'd even learned Mandarin. Eventually, he took a job there, and he and his young American family -- wife Susan, six-year-old Thorne, and four-year-old Aiden -- moved to Beijing. But after being there just long enough to start to feel comfortable in their strange new world, Susan found a lump in her breast. Recounting her navigation of daily life, her two sons' acclimation to a new school, and everyone's adjustment to a life that includes cancer, this memoir is "beautifully written and insightful on many levels" (Booklist)." Armchair Travel August 2014 newsletter

Sep 26, 2011

A very moving account of her struggle with discovering breast cancer in a foreign country, with different customs, where she doesn't speak the language.


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