The Good Women of Fudi

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Pub Date 2 May 2024 | Archive Date 30 Apr 2024

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Description

Imperial China meets Edwardian England in this epic story of loves lost and gained set during the aftermath of the Opium Wars.

Best friends Jiali and Wu Fang know that no man is a match for them. In their small harbour town of Fudi, they practise sword fighting, write couplets to one another, and strut around dressed as men. Jiali is a renowned poet and Wu Fang is going to be China’s first female surgeon. But when Wu Fang returns from medical training in Japan, she is horrified to hear of Jiali’s marriage to a man who cannot even match her couplets, and confused by her intense feelings of jealousy towards her friend’s new husband, Yanbu.

Ocean man Charles has arrived in Fudi to start a new life. He eschews the company of his fellow foreigners, preferring to spend time with new colleague Yanbu, his wife, Jiali, and her friend, Wu Fang. Over the course of several months, he grows close to them all, in increasingly confusing ways, but what will happen when he is forced to choose between his country and his friends?

As tensions between the Manchu rulers and the people rise, and foreign battleships gather out to sea, loyalties will be tested in more ways than Jiali, Wu Fang, Yanbu, and Charles can possibly imagine.

Imperial China meets Edwardian England in this epic story of loves lost and gained set during the aftermath of the Opium Wars.

Best friends Jiali and Wu Fang know that no man is a match for them. In...


Advance Praise

Praise for Wives of the East Wind:

‘A fine combination of delicacy and steeliness … the yin and yang of marriage, Weyna’s barbed relationship with her widowed mother, loyalty misplaced and rediscovered — makes for a warm and understated novel.’ – The Guardian

‘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.’ – Historical Novel Society

‘Epic novel … think fictional Wild Swans.’ – Woman and Home

Praise for Wives of the East Wind:

‘A fine combination of delicacy and steeliness … the yin and yang of marriage, Weyna’s barbed relationship with her widowed mother, loyalty misplaced and...


Available Editions

EDITION Paperback
ISBN 9781915590572
PRICE £10.99 (GBP)

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Featured Reviews

'The fate of all women does not have to be ours.’

The Good Women of Fudi is set in Imperial China after the Opium Wars and follows two friends, Jiali and Wu Fang. The two women have grown up with wealth and are both seriously accomplished. Jiali is a proclaimed poet and swordswoman, and Wu Fang is attending medical school in Japan - to potentially become the first Chinese surgeon.

At the outset of the story, we join Wu Fang on their boat journey back to Fudi from Japan where she meets English Edward, who mistakes them for a Japanese man.

Edward is travelling to join the Fudi Naval College having recently lost his wife, and his and Wu Fang's lives continue to entwine when he realises his closest Chinese colleague Yanbu is Jiali's new husband.

I was really interested in the history of the period, especially the conflict and rising tensions between the differing Chinese factions - the reformers looking outward to Japan's modernist practices and ideas or the traditionalist ruling Manchus and how spiritualism, religion and family weaves a complicated set of values and ideas. I found the suffering attitudes towards the Ocean People (foreigners like the English) really interesting too and was grateful to see things through Edward's eyes as he became more and more fascinated with Fudi's culture and inhabitants.

Wu Fang's gender identity is explored throughout the book but never directly explained, which is the same for the complicated physical and emotional relationship between Wu Fang and Jiali, Edward and Yanbu. I was really swept along with the complicated study of love, gender and sexuality in it's many fluid forms.

My only gripe is that the book ended on a massive cliffhanger - and I've no idea if the book is a series!

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I thought this was a fantastic book, I had such a great time getting to know such a queer facet to China through the cast of the Good Women of Fudi, but I'm reeling at the ending -- is that a cliffhanger? Or is the story complete? I would really appreciate an indication from the blurb one way or another to manage the expectations better.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC.

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