I bought this book looking for a fluffy travel read while I was in China for two weeks earlier this month. I was pleasantly surprised at how well-written this book is and what a great snapshot of life in China in the 90's was for expats and locals alike. While the book begins with the background of how Rache DeWoskin ended up in China and became a star on a serial show, she blended in other experiences and provided a balanced and thoughtful picture of China trying to find itself in a rapidly changing world.
This is one of my favorite memoirs set in China. A woman who dared to love Chinese men on screen (and off), as well as Chinese culture, Rachel writes about it all with passion and humor. It's fun to read because of Rachel's engaging voice and also incredibly informative at the same time. Rachel has gone on to write some fantastic novels (which I love) but for me, this is one of the best books she's written and one that will always remain in my personal library.
When buying "Foreign Babes in Beijing" I was expecting a interesting look at the experiences of Ms. Dewoskin' life in China, and to some extent I got that. I did however also get too many generic historical and cultural explanations. I like reading China memoirs to learn about culture and cultural differences through the experiences and encounters of the author. Sometimes historical background explanations are necessary and helpful, but in this book they are mostly not.
I can still recommend the book if you have an afternoon or two to kill, its a light read and enjoyable enough. I have been living in China since 2007 and many of the situations she encounters are still valid. I think people who have an interest in China or have lived there will find it a mostly entertaining read (but skim the history lessons).
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