Murder on the Orient Express
Falling Leaves is the true story of Adeline Yen Mah, who was born in north-east China in 1937 - her parents' fifth child. Her mother died as a result of her birth, which left her father a sad man feeling in need of a new life. Adeline's father seemed never to fully forgive her for his wife's death. He married again soon after and Adeline's new stepmother, a beautiful young woman they called Niang (a Chinese word meaning mother), strongly disliked her. Father and Niang had two other children together: Franklin (who Niang loved) and Susan (who Niang did not love). Adeline and her brothers and sisters suffered emotionally and physically from their cruel stepmother's words and actions - but Adeline suffered more than the others. Her story is full of the pain and heartbreak of a young girl always hoping that her father will be proud of her. But it is also a story of hope. Adeline works very hard in school and wins prizes. When she wins a play-writing competition, her life changes. She goes to England and studies medicine and becomes a doctor. After a failed marriage, in which she has a child, she finds real happiness with her second husband. The lives of all the members of her family, as seen through the troubles of twentieth century China, make this an unforgettable and very interesting story, which begins and ends with the reading of Adeline's father's will. Niang has left him penniless. She has taken all of his money and property. When Niang dies, she leaves nothing to Adeline. The relationship between Adeline and Niang is painful and shocking, but the Chinese tradition of obedience makes it impossible for Adeline to be anything other tan dutiful towards this woman.