Born into brutal poverty in rural China in 1918, it was her father's successful soy sauce business that enabled Lily Kwok (the author's grandmother) to emigrate to a better life in Hong Kong. However his success soon attracted jealousy, leading to his murder by a competitor. Determined not to let her family return to destitution with the loss of their patriarch, Lily trained as an amah (housemaid) to a wealthy English family. Indispensable, especially for her delicious cooking, she accompanied them on their return to England (escaping her gambling, Triad-member husband, although heartbreakingly having to leave her beloved children behind in Hong Kong).
Overcoming the prejudice of locals, Lily founded the first restaurant in the north of England, a popular restaurant and earned enough money to bring her daughter, Mabel, over from Hong Kong. Mabel continued in the family business yet just as she had given birth to her twin daughters, Helen and Lisa, her husband and mother's gambling addiction lead to bankruptcy.
Poignant and touching, Sweet Mandarin tells the story of the remarkable journey of this family of courageous women. The first ever memoir from a British-born Chinese woman, it also addresses the questions of Chinese heritage, immigration and working in the restaurant trade like no other book before it. Just like the Chinese cooking that has bound their family together across generations, it blends the sweet and the sour to create a moving account of triumph against all the odds.
For more information visit http://www.sweetmandarin.com