The Colour of the Sky after Rain

I promised to read more of Tessa Keswick’s book about her travels round China, The Colour of the Sky after Rain, on my flight to Lisbon today.   It’s an intensely romantic and personal account of her love affair with China which she has explored both intensively and extensively after her marriage in 1985 to Henry, the great taipan and my chairman of trustees at the National Portrait Gallery.

The book incidentally provides a great deal of information about the operation of Jardine Mattheson, the great Scottish trading company, established at the time of the First Opium War, run from Shanghai in the 1920s by Henry’s father, Tony Keswick, and his uncle John, they were driven out of Shanghai by the Japanese in 1942, and the company was effectively re-established by Henry in Hong Kong in the 1960s when he acquired a controlling interest in big companies including Dairy Farm, Gammon (a big construction company), Jardine Cycle and Carriage and the Mandarin Hotel.

I’m learning a lot about how much China has changed in the last thirty years, what it’s like outside the biggest cities, including, incidentally, Wuhan, and the growth of business interests there, including those of Jardine.

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