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Like Father, Unlike Son

Jonathan Spence: Zhu Wen’s China, 6 September 2007

‘I Love Dollars’ and Other Stories of China 
by Zhu Wen, translated by Julia Lovell.
Columbia, 228 pp., £16, September 2006, 0 231 13694 3
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... in 1995, and ‘A Hospital Night’ in 1996. All three have been splendidly translated by Julia Lovell, and together they give us an absorbing portrait of the go-go years in China just before Deng Xiaoping’s death. It is hard to imagine that any other Chinese writer, however talented and sharp, will be able to produce a book about this period ...

Where is this England?

Bernard Porter: The Opium War, 3 November 2011

The Opium War: Drugs, Dreams and the Making of China 
by Julia Lovell.
Picador, 458 pp., £25, September 2011, 978 0 330 45747 7
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... of the diplomatic row over the opium issue in 1839-42 (the period of the First Opium War, which Julia Lovell’s book focuses on) revolved around who should ‘kowtow’ to whom. It hardly seems surprising that the event has slipped British historical memory. I don’t imagine the topic will make it into Michael Gove’s ‘patriotic’ school history ...

Nit, Sick and Bore

India Knight: The Mitfords, 3 January 2002

The Mitford Girls: The Biography of an Extraordinary Family 
by Mary Lovell.
Little, Brown, 611 pp., £20, September 2001, 0 316 85868 4
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Nancy Mitford: A Memoir 
by Harold Acton.
Gibson Square, 256 pp., £16.99, September 2001, 1 903933 01 3
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... talent for levity. So the jokes are crucial. One occasionally gets the impression, from Mary Lovell’s compelling, fluent and problematically sucker-uppy biography, that she isn’t always entirely sure whether the jokes are funny or not: she quotes the tried-and-tested ones over and over and leaves out the new ones thrown up by Nancy Mitford’s ...

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