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An Empire of Women
by Karen Shepard
- Release date: September 11, 2000
- Genres: fiction, china
- Language: english
- ISBN: 9780399146671 (0399146679)
- Publisher: Putnam Adult
- Format: hardcover, 320 pages
- Author: Karen Shepard
About The Book
An Empire of Women portrays the prickly bond between a grandmother, mother, and granddaughter who are bearers of a rich and singular family history. The women manifest a fascinating mix of cultures (mandarin French, merchant Chinese, upper class Manhattan), artistic vocations (the eldest is a celebrated photographer; the youngest paints portraits), and shifting political allegiances (the family is indelibly stamped both by the McCarthy witch hunts and the Cultural Revolution). Yet it’s the way they are at war with each other that will most fascinate readers.The story tracks their reunion, for the first time in a decade, at a family cabin in Virginia. The occasion is the 75th birthday of grandmother Celine, a once-celebrated photographer whose career is long behind her. Joining Celine is granddaughter Cameron, a painter who as a child posed for a famous collection of photos made at the cabin. Squeezed between them is Celine’s daughter Sumin, mother of Cam. In addition to being interviewed by a family friend for a commemorative feature about the Cam photos, the women are convening to decide the future of Alice — a six-year-old Chinese girl recently entrusted to Cam by a friend from Beijing. The struggle over Alice forces exposure of a subsurface ruthlessness and betrayals that have characterized the family history since the Cultural Revolution.
Alice — a child with a mind of her own — supplies the four adults with a fresh chance, a chance to be better people than they have been in the past. Out of the mayhem that follows, Karen Shepard weaves a scintillating and ironic tale about custody, and the ferocity with which our loved ones are sometimes used against us.
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