By: Rachel Cartland
Format/Source: Paperback courtesy of the publishers via LibrayThing Early Reviewers Programme
Rachel Cartland came to Hong Kong in 1972 as one of just two female expatriates in the Hong Kong Government’s elite administrative grade.
Before she retired in 2006, her life was shaped by the momentous events that rocked Hong Kong during those action-packed years: corruption and the police mutiny, the growth of the new towns, the currency crisis of 1983, Tiananmen Square, the change of sovereignty and the devastation of SARS. The backdrop to her story ranges from Kowloon’s infamous Walled City to Government House to the rural New Territories.
Paper Tigress is full of humour and incident and, at the same time, an accessible account of modern Hong Kong and the forces that shaped it.
Bit of a funny story about this book, but I won a complimentary copy of this book from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers programme in 2014 but only received a copy of it early this year. Had actually given up the prospect of it ever arriving when it did xD So here we are. I thought the premise of this book was really interesting, being one of two female expatriates working for the Hong Kong government, as well as the fact that it was about Hong Kong politics and 20th century history, an area I was not very familiar with.
Suffice to say Paper Tigress was an interesting look into life and work in colonial Hong Kong in the twentieth century right up to its return to China in 1997 but also includes incidents that happened afterwards right up to Ms. Cartland’ retirement. As I mentioned I’m not wholly familiar with Hong Kong history or politics other than its place in British history and society of the time and the general happenings in the region in the twentieth century. So reading up about its infastructure, the obstacles it faced, and its customs was quite interesting. It can be dense at times, especially as this memoir looks at the administrative side of the work, but nonetheless very informative.
This book was also prettty great in following Ms. Cartland’s life and career. The reader reads as she rose up the ranks from her humble beginnings in England to gaining such a prominent position in the Hong Kong government, not to mention she was only one of two women who held such positions. Reading her experiences were very interesting–she had witnessed so much in her life and career–and quite inspirational in what’s she’s done and what she’s achieved.
Paper Tigress was overall a very interesting read. I learned a lot about what was going on at Hong Kong at the time as well as its unique relationships to China and the United Kingdom. It can be a bit dry at times if you’re not especially interested in politics and current events of the 20th century, but students of history and political science may be interested in checking out this title.