Not since Wild Swans has Chinese history been so intimately encountered - through the stories of four sisters born between 1907 and 1914, a renowned historian examines a century of extraordinary change in Chinese culture and in women's lives. Now in their late eighties and early nineties, the four Chang sisters lived through a century of historic change in China. In this extraordinary work, assembled with the benefit of letters, diaries, family histories, poetry, journals and interviews, Annping Chin shapes the story of one family into a riveting chronicle that provides a unique insight into the old China and its transition into the new. From their father, the Chang sisters inherited reason and a belief in the virtues of modern education. From their mother they learned about the human spirit and the art of finding an appropriate path. The nurse-nannies - uneducated widows from the Hofei countryside - contributed their own opinions on modern ways. As the sisters grow up, one breaks with tradition to marry an actor, another marries one of China's greatest novelists; another, raised by her devout Buddhist grandaunt, is taught to be a rigorous practitioner of China's classical arts.
The Chang sisters' prolific correspondence provides an intimate glimpse of private life, as well as a chronicle of the developments of the twentieth century, from prosperity to persecution, from foreign wars to Cultural Revolution. Four Sisters of Hofei is an intensely personal and sweeping story that illustrates the complex history of a complex culture.