Peacefully, as Summer Flowers

by Wu Hanning

This lovely memoir by Wu Hanning, one of China’s “super women,” spends far less time on the author’s successes than it does on the personal challenges and triumphs she worked through on her way to achieving them.

Tales of Hanning’s Shanxi childhood, with its traditional customs and simple ways of life, are followed by school girl entrepreneurial experiments. We find her trading pocket money for spools of thread, and later traveling to Guangzhou as a preteen, to find what she might be able to afford and bring back to sell in her home town. The initiatives are as imaginative in construction as they are successful in outcome.

Next, Ms. Wu takes us to her college years where she experiments with a beauty salon, followed by her leaving off a substantive career in higher education to boldly relocate to Shenzen. There she leapfrogs into life as a civil engineer, just as the region is exploding.

Wu Hanning’s subsequent flash-of-inspiration move to just-exploding Shanghai leads not only to Juan, the dashing and brilliant Spaniard she marries and the rich family life they build together, but through ever-more-sophisticated entrepreneurial activities which blossom in her inspiring career in regional development. Overall, Ms. Wu shows how a hometown girl builds a bold experimenting style, one eventually as successful in domestic as in professional life.

World travels are not left out – France, with its Provence and Paris adventures, shows up particularly – and of course there is Hanning’s second home, Spain, the eventual destination to which all travels lead.

Through it all, we are treated to an inside view of China’s explosive appearance on the world stage. We get a dramatist’s view of family, friends and associates, along with ever-requisite episodes of betrayal.

In these pages, it becomes clear that we are in conversation with a true living person, one who, even when disappointed, invariably finds positive ways to view setbacks. We are allowed intimate views into Ms. Wu’s practical thinking and innate voice of optimism as they lead to tales of success and relationship and love. (She even set the book’s publication to celebrate those last in a most special way!)

All readers will be provoked by what Wu Hanning has to say, and a great many will be inspired to go out and make a go of whatever life has given them to work with, no matter what the mix.

We could not recommend this International Women’s Day publication more.