Wives of the East Wind
Wives of the East Wind covers four decades of China’s recent history, beginning in the 1960s. It features newly trained doctor Wenya who marries Zhiying, a young man working for the East Wind tractor company. Wenya becomes friends with Zhenzhen, wife of the Director of the factory, Korean war hero Laoyin. These are heady times; the people are poor but convinced that their efforts will bring them a better future.
Then the Cultural Revolution in the mid-sixties brings a change of mood: Laoyin is no longer considered a hero but a traitor, and the two couples discover that their youthful ideals are no longer acceptable. They find themselves living through decades of terror, famine and personal tragedy, testing the friendship of the two women to its limits.
The simple style of the narrative is perfectly in keeping with the story—a tale of ordinary people who are not ordinary at all. There are moments of humour mixed with great hardship and the characters face their trials with dignity. This is a moving, non-judgemental novel set in China’s recent past.