Bound Feet & Western Dress

"This memoir by a second-generation Chinese-American, centering on the remarkable life of a great-aunt born in Shanghai in 1900, is a touching, bittersweet evocation of China when the old world was disappearing and being replaced by confusion and chaos. But Pang-Mei Natasha Chang's fruitful effort in 'Bound Feet and Western Dress' to reattach herself to her own heritage has historical as well as personal meaning.

Ms. Chang's great-aunt, Chang Yu-i, not only lived through China's 20th-century transition from fading Confucian empire to rising Communist giant. She was also a member of the small world of patriotic bohemians who had their moment on the Chinese cultural stage in the first three decades of this century.

'Bound Feet and Western Dress' evokes that little-known part of China's history when, as we might put it now, the personal was intensely political; that is, when the way people led their private lives was in itself a declaration of war on the Old Society. Ms. Chang herself grew up in a successful academic family in Connecticut, where, exposed to racist taunts by her schoolmates, she felt 'torn between two cultures,' longing 'for a country I could call my own.'

-- The New York Times