Shanghai Bride

Her Tumultuous Life’s Journey to the West


Christina Ching Tsao

ISBN : 978-962-209-714-8


February 2005

260 pages, 6″ x 9″

  • HK$195.00

This is an autobiography of a woman of unusual strength and determination who grew up in 1930s’ Shanghai. Born to a traditional family of China’s scholar-official class, she endured incredible suffering as her country was torn apart, first by warlords and later by the invading Japanese Imperial Army. Initially she was given a Western education and, as a teenager, was sought after as a singer of Chinese opera, socializing with tycoons, military officers and statesmen. One of her closest friends was her father’s concubine. She witnessed life in the raw in Shanghai as warlordism tore the country apart. When Japan attacked Hong Kong, she and her young family took refuge in Hong Kong—until Hong Kong, too, was occupied by the Japanese Imperial Army.

After the war, saddled with an ageing husband who became increasingly paranoid, she took over the responsibility of single-handedly caring for her young children, while teaching herself such skills as shorthand, typing and bookkeeping so as to get, and keep, an office job. Throughout this time, her one ambition in life was to live in the United States, an ambition she ultimately fulfilled after first living in Borneo, then London and Paris. Finally, at the age of 50, she boarded the SS Queen Mary from Southampton, and on that venerable liner’s final voyage sailed across the Atlantic. In the United States, she was reunited with all her children, now grown with successful careers of their own.

Christina Ching Tsao was born in Shanghai in 1915 to a prominent scholar-official family that traces its descent back to a Song dynasty poet. At 16 she was married to a brilliant lawyer more than twice her age. For over ten years, Christina Ching Tsao was a refugee, first because of the Japanese invasion and later as a result of the communist victory in China’s civil war. In postwar Hong Kong, she single-handedly brought up her four children. While in Borneo, she obtained a master’s degree in business administration. Christina Ching Tsao immigrated to the United States in 1965, where she became a successful businesswoman.

Shanghai Bride is gripping. Christina Ching Tsao’s life was full of sadness, but she had a good time living it, too. What happened could have taken place only in Shanghai, where traditional Chinese values were of little consequence. I could not put it down!” —Betty Wei, author, Shanghai: Crucible of Modern China, and Old Shanghai