‘This is a wonderful story of mid-life opportunity. Jane Carswell is a courageous woman and a spirited writer. Her book is a warm invitation to us all to risk a deeper kind of journey.’ Michael McGirr, author The Lost Art of Sleep, Things You Get For Free, and Bypass.
In mid-life Jane Carswell leaves her seemingly tranquil New Zealand life, her family and friends, to teach English in Chongqing, China. Her journey into the unknown epitomises the ache so many of us feel in our own lives for new challenges and personal understandings. Under the Huang Jiao Tree is a reflective, amusing and absorbing book about living and working in China, and the profound impact the experience has on the author’s search for connection and community. Carswell writes beautifully and entertainingly of China, of its people and her surprises and setbacks, but where her memoir stands alone is in its description of her own search for a spiritual life and practice. On her return to her Western life she becomes drawn to the teachings of St Benedict, and all at once the reader realises where the purity of her writing springs from: a deep well of calm, silence and belief.
‘Jane Carswell’s account of a year teaching in a Chongqing middle school combines an acute eye for detail with a succinct style that transforms ordinary sights into insights, eloquent and sometimes startling, even for those familiar with China. Her empathy with her Chinese colleagues, her enjoyment of encounters with strangers, her patience with difficult situations create a human story few could resist. Courageous interludes of self-revelation turn this book into the double journey of experience plus introspection that makes it delightfully unique.’
Professor Emeritus Bill Willmott CNZM, Former National President, New Zealand China Friendship Society