Chinese adventures; Nona McGlashan’s new book recounts years in China
A new book chronicling years spent in China has just been published, and the author is no stranger to Truckee.Nona McGlashan, Truckee native and writer, has written O Days of Wind & Moon, an account of her time in China with the Catholic Sisters of Social Service.From 1936 to 1956 McGlashan was a member of the Catholic order, and in 1946 she was sent to Shanghai to help establish a Chinese branch. In the order, she was known as Sister Mariel.The book recalls the 23 months McGlashan spent there and opens with her excitement about reaching a new, foreign land:”Every lifetime needs at least one golden moment of dreams come true. Mine came to me that October night of 1946 when from the top deck of the SS Marine Lynx I followed my superior, Sister Frederica Hovarth, down the steep narrow stairway to the Shanghai wharf and good earth of China.”Once there, the sisters’ mission was to provide medical and social relief services to orphanages and other institutions in Shanghai.In Days McGlashan recounts the xenophobia she encountered from the Chinese, the hard work her mission required and the bureaucratic red tape which made her job even tougher.Eventually, the mission was scrapped. Political conflicts with the Chinese government were too great to sustain the establishment of a Chinese order, but in the book McGlashan takes a surprising perspective on this.She tells how many people received help through the sisters and how she was touched and inspired by the Chinese.The book is divided into letters home and stories of her adventures in China. Her tales are frank, candid and often funny, and she uses the opportunity to sound off on the Chinese government.McGlashan said she decided to write O Days of Wind & Moon after years of urging from friends and family members. She also noted the timing is good with recent concerns over China’s human rights record as well as its reunification with Hong Kong.”When I came back after the war, no one wanted to hear about China,” said McGlashan. “They were all tired of war stories. But the interest in China has grown recently.”McGlashan, the granddaughter of Truckee entrepreneur, publisher and writer Charles F. McGlashan, now lives in Auburn, where she writes and teaches creative writing to seniors.Her previous works include Give Me a Mountain Meadow and From the Desk of Truckee’s C.F. McGlashan. She occasionally contributes articles to Sierra Heritage Magazine.Although McGlashan left the order to re-enter secular life in 1956, she said she has kept in close contact with them over the years.”I’ve stayed close to the sisters and kept up with what they’re doing,” McGlashan said.After leaving the sisters, McGlashan earned a master’s degree in radio and television from San Francisco State University, but found little work in the field.”There was not much of a place for women in the industry 50 years ago,” McGlashan said.She went to work at Miller-Freeman publishers as an editorial assistant. McGlashan went on to teach sociology, both at Mt. Angel College in Oregon and in Ojai, where she was a live-in teacher and counselor.McGlashan will sign copies of “O Days of Wind & Moon” on Friday, Nov. 21, at The Bookshelf at Hooligan Rocks from 6-8 p.m.O Days of Wind & Moon is published by Fithian Press and will be available at The Bookshelf.
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