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.
A Long Petal of the Sea meets Cold Mountain in this sweeping historical saga following a Mexican army nurse and an Irish soldier who must fight, at first for their survival and then for their love, amidst the atrocity of the Mexican-American War—from the author of the “timely and riveting” (People) Across a Hundred Mountains and The Distance Between Us.
A forgotten war. An unforgettable romance.
The year is 1846. After the controversial annexation of Texas, the US Army marches south to provoke war with México over the disputed Río Grande boundary.
Ximena Salomé is a gifted Mexican healer who dreams of building a family with the man she loves on the coveted land she calls home. But when Texas Rangers storm her ranch and shoot her husband dead, her dreams are burned to ashes. Vowing to honor her husband’s memory and defend her country, Ximena uses her healing skills as an army nurse on the frontlines of the ravaging war.
Meanwhile, John Riley, an Irish immigrant in the Yankee army desperate to help his family escape the famine devastating his homeland, is sickened by the unjust war and the unspeakable atrocities against his countrymen by nativist officers. In a bold act of defiance, he swims across the Río Grande and joins the Mexican Army—a desertion punishable by execution. He forms the St. Patrick’s Battalion, a band of Irish soldiers willing to fight to the death for México’s freedom.
When Ximena and John meet, a dangerous attraction blooms between them. As the war intensifies, so does their passion. Swept up by forces with the power to change history, they fight not only for the fate of a nation but for their future together.
Heartbreaking and lyrical, Reyna Grande’s spellbinding saga, inspired by true events and historical figures, brings these two unforgettable characters to life and illuminates a largely forgotten moment in history that impacts the US-México border to this day.
Will Ximena and John survive the chaos of this bitter war, or will their love be devoured along with the land they strive to defend?
Vanessa Hua is a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and the author of the novel A River of Stars and a story collection, Deceit and Other Possibilities. A National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellow, she has also received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, and a Steinbeck Fellowship in Creative Writing, as well as awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, among others. She has filed stories from China, Burma, South Korea, and elsewhere, and her work has appeared in publications such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic. She has taught most recently at the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.
Reyna Grande is a multi award winning writer. Writing about immigration, family separation, language trauma, the price of the American Dream, and her writing journey, Reyna’s work has appeared in The New York Times, the Dallas Morning News, among others. She is the author of the bestselling memoir, The Distance Between Us, and her recently released, much buzzed about novel, A Ballad of Love and Glory, is sweeping historical saga.
Vanessa Hua photo courtesy of the author; Reyna Grande photo courtesy of the author