The Foremost Good Fortune

The Foremost Good Fortune

SusanConley / Jul 22, 2019

The Foremost Good Fortune The Foremost Good Fortune is a beautiful story of womanhood motherhood travel and loss written by an author of rare and radiant grace Elizabeth Gilbert author of Eat Pray Love In American

  • Title: The Foremost Good Fortune
  • Author: SusanConley
  • ISBN: 9780307594068
  • Page: 420
  • Format: Hardcover
  • The Foremost Good Fortune is a beautiful story of womanhood, motherhood, travel and loss, written by an author of rare and radiant grace Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love In 2007, American writer Susan Conley moves to Beijing with her husband and two young sons Six months later, she is diagnosed with breast cancer Set against the fascinating backdrop of The Foremost Good Fortune is a beautiful story of womanhood, motherhood, travel and loss, written by an author of rare and radiant grace Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love In 2007, American writer Susan Conley moves to Beijing with her husband and two young sons Six months later, she is diagnosed with breast cancer Set against the fascinating backdrop of modern China and full of insight into the trickiest questions of motherhood, this wry and poignant memoir is a celebration of family and a candid exploration of mortality and belonging.

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    About "SusanConley"

      • SusanConley

        Susan Conley is the author of Paris Was the Place Knopf, August 2013 , an Fall Big Books Pick for fiction, an Indie Next Pick, and an Elle Magazine Readers Prize Pick People magazine calls it a satisfying cassoulet of questions about home, comfort and love, served with a fresh perspective on a dazzling city while Booklist says that, Deftly exploring the complexities of friendship, family and commitment, Conley adroitly demonstrates her infectious passion for Paris through an extensive and intimate portrait of the inner workings concealed behind its seductive fa ade An American novelist, nonfiction writer, poet and creative writing professor, Susan s memoir, The Foremost Good Fortune Knopf 2011 , was excerpted in the New York Times Magazine and the Daily Beast It was an Oprah Magazine Top Ten Pick of the Month, a Slate Magazine Book of the Week and a finalist for the Choice Award It won the Maine Literary Award for Memoir Other work of hers has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, The Huffington Post, Ploughshares, The Harvard Review and elsewhere Susan Conley has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Breadloaf Writers Conference, and the Massachusetts Arts Council A former faculty member at Emerson College, she has also taught at Colby College and Simmons College She currently teaches at the University of Southern Maine s Stonecoast MFA Program, and is the Jack Kerouac Visiting Writer at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell She s also the co founder of The Telling Room, a nonprofit creative writing lab in Portland, Maine, where she leads a variety of workshops.


    114 Comments

    1. I was really looking forward to reading this book, and I was hoping I would like it, because I will soon be transplanted into Chinese culture/country where I plan to raise my children. My future husband is a native, and I know my children will soon be overtaking my Chinese level by the time they're in kindergarten. So in this book I wanted to catch a glimpse of how the author felt lost/disoriented/isolated in the new country. I felt like I could really relate with all that (except for the cancer [...]


    2. This memoir really fell short of my expectations. The first third of the book the author complained about not fitting in in her new country, China. She actually begrudged her sons, 4 and 6, for mastering Mandarin faster than she did. It is horrible for me to admit this, but when Conley finally went to the doctor's (around page 100), I thought, "Oh, good. She's finally going to get to the cancer part." Bad, I know, but thus far the book was just another "ugly American" whining. The unfortunate th [...]


    3. There are two Susans in this book: before and after cancer. The first Susan frustrated me with her negativity and often superior tone. Yes, Beijing is a pretty dirty city, the bureaucracy can drive you crazy, and if you don't speak Mandarin you're in serious trouble. But the Beijing of 2008 was also an amazingly exciting place. What kept me reading, despite the author's apparent lack of adventurous spirit, was the small insights into Beijing living. The book is structured in short episodes cente [...]


    4. Susan, an American housewife from Maine, moved her young family (her boys were 4 and 6) to China for her husband's dream job. And Susan didn't like it. She didn't settle in well, didn't have friends, found it hard to communicate, didn't like the smog, etc. And later she came home and wrote a book about how much she hated China. Sound like fun?Halfway through the book, Susan got breast cancer. Unsurprisingly, Susan with breast cancer is even less happy and less likable than Susan without breast c [...]


    5. Weirdly, I really enjoyed this book, despite disliking 2 major aspects of it: (1) it struck me as yet another privileged white woman navel-gazing expedition (I seem to have read a lot of these lately I'd dub it the "Eat, Pray, Love" genre but there are so many of these that I hate to name it after only one book), and (2) so much of it was focused on her struggles with child-rearing while in Beijing, a topic which has no relevance on my childless life and in which I am not interested. Yet I still [...]


    6. Susan Conley's memoir proved to be a good follow-up to The Last Empress and Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by providing a look at modern-day China and thereby, the results of the political decisions recorded in those two books.Conley's account of her two years in China along with her husband, Tony, and young sons, Aiden and Thorne, isn't just about where they went, what they did and funny things that Beijingren do, but more about the emotional journey of living in a foreign country and dea [...]


    7. The Foremost Good Fortune is a book about dislocation - the dislocation of moving to another country; the dislocation of worrying your choices were wrong; the dislocation of disease (Conley's breast cancer). Conley, her husband, and her two sons move to Beijing for two years so that her husband can establish a company there, and while some of the book does offer a look at what the city is like, what China means to an American set down in its midst, this isn't a travel narrative, or a wrestling w [...]


    8. Conley agrees to relocate her family to Beijing for two years as her husband Tony introduces credit-rating systems to state-run banks. He's excited to travel back to the country he'd backpacked through in the mid 80s, and he knows the language. She doesn't, and she's in charge of the minutiae of their daily lives-- caring for their young sons, shopping(including locating $10 a box Honey Nut Cheerios), managing the household (hiring a competent ayi who can cook and clean), and navigating the comp [...]


    9. Being from Maine, and having lived various parts of my life in Asia, including China, I really enjoyed her honesty and candor. She tells the truth about the internal controversies a mom has. Never mind a mom who is diagnosed with Cancer in the midst of the big family adventure.


    10. The Foremost Good Fortune is a testament my belief that the best storytellers begin as poets. After earning an MFA in poetry and going on to publish poems in some of the nation's best journals, Susan Conley has written a memoir that can feel like a poem in its exploration of language and voice, yet the book also bears the virtues of creative non-fiction: strong stories and reader friendly writing. This mix makes for a fascinating ride through modern China! --and also through the mysterious, body [...]


    11. Susan Conely’s honest and introspective memoir Foremost Good Fortune is a gripping read involving multiple, interconnecting spheres. Covering the time surrounding the Beijing Olympics when she lived in China with her husband and young sons, it’s part travelogue, part chronicle of the expat experience in one of the world’s most powerful and fascinating nations, and part a record of what it feels like to leave just about everything and everyone you know to start a new life. Most authors of b [...]


    12. I did not like this book very much and it was a struggle to finish it. The writing is fine. The author is the problem. I have read a number of books about Americans, Chinese-Americans, and Chinese people working and living in China, but none have been as whiny as this one. And all other of the authors I have read on this topic found SOMETHING they loved about China and wrote about it. This author spends so much time complaining about the fact that she has no friends, cannot speak the language (e [...]


    13. I read through some of the other reviews of this book, and it was widely liked. However, I had some majori issues. The memoir retells about the years that Susan Conley spent in China with her husband and her two young sons. During this time, she had to adjust to a completely new culture, new language, and new routines. She also was faced with the devastating news that she had breast cancer.In theory, the things that happened to her were monumental. I can't even imagine the changes that she and h [...]


    14. I must start by saying that I usually don't love memoir so was skeptical when a friend in the states pointed me to the video on susan conley dot com The video immediately drew me in, I read the first chapter on line, ordered the kindle version and could not put it down after that.I have lived in China for six years and can say that this book vividly captures Beijing on the eve of the Olympics and the feelings that every foreigner has when living in a new environment as an ex-pat. It brought back [...]


    15. A wonderful read!! I had the pleasure of meeting Susan Conley at a book-signing in her honor. Had I read the book ahead of time, there would have been much more to say, compliments to offer and questions to ask! I don't think I've ever read a memoir before - cerainly not one written by someone whose hand I have shaken. Her words are so smart, so vivid, she introduces the reader to the wonders and complexities of China - it's culture, people, landscape and language. I laughed, I cried - hers is a [...]


    16. I won this book by entering through the Giveaway section. My copy is sgined by the author, Susan Conley. I enjoyed this book very much, as Conley shares her story of living in China and surviving cancer. She relays her experiences in an endearing and real way. I somehow thought the entire book was going to center around her cancer, but I was happy to discover that she wrote about her family's quirky adjustments to a new country, and how they came together to triumph over adversity. Conley does n [...]


    17. I really enjoyed this book, though I wanted to feel even more deeply her emotional experience of being diagnosed with cancer in the most foreign of countries, China. Beautifully written. Would make a compelling movie if done right.


    18. I made the mistake of reading a lot of reviews about this book before I read it, so I was probably going into it planning to be disappointed. Thankfully, I was pretty happy with the book until the bitter end. There are no real plot twists or surprises but reading about day-to-day life in bustling Beijing was oddly soothing and, as a former expat myself, very relatable.


    19. This was my kind of memoir with a vulnerable, strong woman telling her story. She hovered over the people and the moments that meant the most to her and brought them into stunning and tender focus.


    20. I would love to know why this page no longer allows me to enter dates read. I have to select today's date or it wont work.



    21. I won this book from a First-read. I am pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed Susan Conley's 'The Foremost Good Fortune'. Reading the synopsis of this book, though I knew I wasn't in the the target audience, I couldn't help but to be intrigued. Despite a few aspects of the novel that I simply couldn't relate to (and not just about cancer), this book was an overall pleasant read. It is a haunting yet detailed story of what it takes to be a family, a person, and possibly most important of all, a su [...]


    22. This book came highly recommended, but I found it to be a shallow look at the expatriate lifestyle and highly frustrating, even though I could somewhat identify with her situation. I wondered if my mother ever felt the way Conley did--moving halfway across the world with two small children (exactly the same age as Conley's kids, no less) to a country so profoundly different from the United States and anything she had really known. However, unlike Conley, I believe my mother already knew that chi [...]


    23. This book focuses on two major events in Susan Conley’s life: moving to China and dealing with cancer. They’re supposed to mirror one another: first Susan is a stranger in a new country, and then she becomes a stranger to her own body. It sounds cleverly put together with the promise of some sort of deep, inspired conclusion. Unfortunately, it never quite works. The connection never fully materialized for me.The parts dealing with Conley’s cancer are my least favorite in the book. I think [...]


    24. This was one rare book that I could not put down. I finished the almost 300 pages within 10 days. What carried me through was the feeling Conley gave you as if you were right there in Beijing with the family, her vivid descriptions of the streets and scenery and the personal transformation she went through following cancer. I love stories where the author or characters have unexpected personal transformations. However, the booked was peppered with hints of ethnocentrism and American superiority. [...]


    25. Susan Conley's memoir chroncling her family's time in China creates a beautiful travelogue, but it's her battle with breast cancer in a foreign land that make this book a great one. Mother to two young boys, Susan follows her husband all the way to China for a two year stint. Leaving behind their family and friends in Maine, they pack up their belongings and board their flight, unsure of what they are going to encounter. While her husband, Tony, has been to China before and is fluent in the lang [...]


    26. Reading this book in the Tokyo while visiting Maja, having had it recommended to me by her good friend here, Erin, who was in a writers' group with the author in Beijing and is working on her own ex-pat novel, made it an even more interesting read. Susan Conley is foremost a poet according to Erin and her writing reflects that tho the subject of this book is not the stuff of poetry. She writes about her move with her husband and two young sons, 4 & 6, to Beijing for two and a half years. It [...]


    27. The Foremost Good Fortune is basically a memoir of Susan Conley's time in Beijing, China and the surrounding areas that her family went sight seeing. Her husband Tony is fluent in Mandarin. He has been to China before and still loved the country. This trip to China is Susan's and her sons, Aidan's and Thorne's first time. The worst two things in traveling to any foreign country are not able to speak the language and trying to understand the culture. Susan also has to deal with her sons' anxiety [...]


    28. I knew going in that I wasn't the target audience/demographic for Susan Conley's memoir The Foremost Good Fortune, but that has never really stopped me from reading a book before. That said, if it was solely about a 40-something mom and her battle with breast cancer I likely would not have been drawn in. My primary interest in the book was that it recounted Conley and her American family living in Beijing for two years. I have been utterly fascinated with China since I was fortunate enough to go [...]


    29. This book is kind of like Eat, Pray, Love but instead with China and cancer. Or at least it's like that what I imagine since I haven't actually read or see the movie. But here, Susan agrees to move to Beijing with her husband along with their two sons, and while there she discovers that she has breast cancer.Picking this up I was hoping to be transported to China. And while there was times that that was the case, in general I don't feel like I was transported. That could be because I didn't have [...]


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