||"In a country where patriarchal favoritism and the primacy of sons survived multiple revolutions and an ideological earthquake, this epic novel is first and foremost about women. As the title implies, the female body serves as the book's most important image and metaphor. The protagonist, Mother, is born in 1900. Married at seventeen into the Shangguan family, she has nine children, none by her husband, who is sterile. The youngest is her only boy, the narrator of the book, a spoiled and ineffectual child who stands in stark contrast to his headstrong and forceful sisters. Mother, a survivor, is the quintessential strong woman, constantly risking her life to save several of her children and grandchildren as the political tides shift dramatically from year to year. ... Each of the seven chapters recounts a different era, from the Boxer Rebellion of 1900 through the fall of the Qing dynasty in 1911 and the early years of Sun Yat Sen's Republic, the Japanese invasion in the 1930s, the civil war, the Cultural Revolution, and the post-Mao years"--P.  of cover.