Short summary: Madame Mao, dubbed the "white-boned demon", is one of the most reviled women in recent history as many blame her for the excesses of China's cultural revolution. In this work of historical fiction, Min offers a more sympathetic portrait of a woman driven by ambition and a futile attempt to keep Chairman Mao's love.
The group's verdict: Only half the group (me included) was even able to finish this one. Madame Mao is definitely a fascinating personality but Min didn't do her any favors by choosing a strange writing style that shifts between first person present and third person present every other paragraph. This set-up seems especially senseless since both POVs are too close to Madame Mao's emotions - a lost opportunity for a more distanced assessment of her often reprehensible actions. Recommended only for those with a moderate to high interest in China and its history.
Up next: The Invention of Curried Sausage by Uwe Timm. I'll be reading this one in its original German.