• Forbidden City

  • A Novel
  • By: Vanessa Hua
  • Narrated by: Catherine Ho
  • Length: 13 hrs and 29 mins
  • 4.1 out of 5 stars (20 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • A teenage girl living in 1960s China becomes Mao Zedong’s protégée and lover—and a heroine of the Cultural Revolution—in this “masterful new novel” (The Washington Post)

“A new classic about China’s Cultural Revolution . . . Think Succession, but add death and mayhem to the palace intrigue. . . . Ambitious and impressive.”—San Francisco Chronicle

On the eve of China’s Cultural Revolution and her sixteenth birthday, Mei dreams of becoming a model revolutionary. When the Communist Party recruits girls for a mysterious duty in the capital, she seizes the opportunity to escape her impoverished village. It is only when Mei arrives at the Chairman’s opulent residence—a forbidden city unto itself—that she learns that the girls’ job is to dance with the Party elites. Ambitious and whip-smart, Mei beelines toward the Chairman. 

Mei gradually separates herself from the other recruits to become the Chairman’s confidante—and paramour. While he fends off political rivals, Mei faces down schemers from the dance troupe who will stop at nothing to take her place and the Chairman’s imperious wife, who has secret plans of her own. 

When the Chairman finally gives Mei a political mission, she seizes it with fervor, but the brutality of this latest stage of the revolution makes her begin to doubt all the certainties she has held so dear. 

Forbidden City is an epic yet intimate portrayal of one of the world’s most powerful and least understood leaders during this extraordinarily turbulent period in modern Chinese history. Mei’s harrowing journey toward truth and disillusionment raises questions about power, manipulation, and belief, as seen through the eyes of a passionate teenage girl.

©2022 Vanessa Hua (P)2022 Random House Audio

What listeners say about Forbidden City

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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Entertaining and Enlightening

The author brings to life some interesting aspects of the cultural revolution in China, the swim in the Yangtze which sadly unleashed the brutality of the Cultural revolution as well as the abhorrent abuse of young women by Mao Zedong.

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Great fictional look into Mao's Court.

The author delivers an excellent story about China's Cultural Revolution period. The main character's journey is an interesting one. The narration isn't bad, though it starts out rather stilted.