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Idyllic childhood in the Himalayan foothills of Chengdu, Sichuan, with pet panda. Exciting hike across a bamboo suspension bridge to camp by a Buddhist monastery in Kham. Tibet. Harrowing tales of her feudal relatives – her cousin who had her arm chopped off by her drunken father and her aunt being made to die drinking opium for having an illegitimate baby who was thrown into a river.

At just 14, abruptly dumped into an English boarding school with little English, Gioietta grew up to be beautiful and academically brilliant. Here is an unique and thrilling tale of her metamorphosis from one great civilization to another – her struggles of adaptation, conflicts of identity and her accomplishments – Cambridge, PhD in nuclear physics at age 24, Fellow at St Hilda's college, Oxford and later at Princeton, USA.

Inevitably she was pursued by many young men of different nationalities. Among them was an Italian billionaire who fell in love with her on a Paris-Milano flight. May be it is her father, her profession or her personality, her early life revolved around the shady side of politics – spying. Dancing with a Russian physicist from communist Soviet Union in the streets of Paris at the height of cold war led to a sinister skirmish with Soviet intelligence, KGB, and British foreign counter Intelligence MI6.

Her father was a diplomat for Taiwan in Paris. larger than life, patron of the arts, a fabulous cook, kind, generous and recklessly extravagant especially with women. He doted on Gioietta and was devastated when she left Paris to marry a Croatian and live in Tito's communist Yugoslavia. Most sensational, her father vanished – escaping to Beijing pursued by Taiwan agents who wanted his head for high treason. A real life spy story. All cloak and dagger stuff.

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