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The Language of Threads: A Novel by Gail…

The Language of Threads: A Novel (1999)

by Gail Tsukiyama

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The Language of Threads – Tsukiyama
4 stars

This sequel to Women of the Silk continues the story of Pei and the orphaned Ji Shen as they flee to Hong Kong in the wake of the Japanese invasion. The story progresses through the Japanese occupation, the Communist take-over and the post war recovery of Hong Kong. As the central character, Pei struggles to support herself and Ji Shen while continuing to grieve for her partner, Lin. One or two other characters from the first story continue in this one. The book ends with the aging Pei returning, full circle, to her origins, in memory, and with a visit to Communist China.

As in the first book, Language of Threads> explores the lives of women who are without the protection of traditional family relationships. The “sisterhood” of the silk industry continues to provide support for the refugees in Hong Kong even though the industry itself is gone. In this way Pei and Ji Shen are not without the means to find shelter and employment. Pei is even able to provide the young Ji Shen with the advantage of an education; until the Japanese invasion. Employment includes a brief but fulfilling relationship with the English widow, Mrs. Finch. Mrs. Finch provides Tsukiyama with another outlet to explore the creation of a non-traditional family. Themes of friendship, love and loyalty permeate this book.

Tsukiyama writes in a rather understated manner. I sometimes find myself wanting more detail to support the apparent depth of the relationships between her characters. On the other hand, her characters tend to be people who allow their actions to speak for the depth of their feeling.

I would recommend reading these two books rather closely together. Pei’s growth as a character is tied by many threads to the events of the first book.
( )
  msjudy | May 30, 2016 |
This is one of the most dear books to my heart. I never expected to like this book but once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down until it was finished. Now, I intend to read even more of this authors books as soon as I am able. ( )
  diananagy | Apr 30, 2015 |
This book is a follow-up to Women of the Silk, which I read and enjoyed several years ago.

Briefly, Women of the Silk is the story of Pei, who is a poor farmer's daughter who is sent to work in a silk factory at age 8, because her parents cannot afford to feel all of their children. She becomes part of a sisterhood of silk workers.

The Language of Threads follows Pei to Hong Kong, where she has fled the Japanese occupation, which catches up with her there.

I love this book! I was completely drawn to the characters and their world. ( )
  bookwoman247 | Oct 29, 2012 |
Did not live up to the 1st book. ( )
1 vote ChuTrandinh | Nov 24, 2011 |
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As I look at the moon my mind goes roaming, till I live again the autumns that I knew long ago. --Saigyo
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Pei glanced down into the dark, glassy water of Hong Kong harbor and suddenly felt shy and wordless.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312267568, Paperback)

Readers of Women of the Silk never forgot the moving, powerful story of Pei, brought to work in the silk house as a girl, grown into a quiet but determined young woman whose life is subject to cruel twists of fate, including the loss of her closest friend, Lin. Now we finally learn what happened to Pei, as she leaves the silk house for Hong Kong in the 1930s, arriving with a young orphan, Ji Shen, in her care. Her first job, in the home of a wealthy family, ends in disgrace, but soon Pei and Ji Shen find a new life in the home of Mrs. Finch, a British ex-patriate who welcomes them as the daughters she never had. Their idyllic life is interrupted, however, by war, and the Japanese occupation. Pei is once again forced to make her own way, struggling to survive and to keep her extended family alive as well. In this story of hardship and survival, Tsukiyama paints a portrait of women fighting the forces of war and time to make a life for themselves.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:30 -0400)

After the Japanese invade China, a woman in the silk trade flees her village, taking along an orphaned "silk sister." The two find refuge in Hong Kong, only to lose everything when World War II breaks out and the Japanese come again.

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