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The Concubine's Daughter: A Novel by…

The Concubine's Daughter: A Novel (edition 2009)

by Pai Kit Fai

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2103255,654 (3.4)10
Title:The Concubine's Daughter: A Novel
Authors:Pai Kit Fai
Info:St. Martin's Griffin (2009), Edition: First Edition, Paperback, 496 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Concubine's Daughter by Pai Kit Fai



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Fai's imagery is beautiful and does manage to transport the reader to China in the early twentieth century. However, the book is divided into two parts, and it would have been better - and helped with pacing - if it was two seperate books, one focusing on Li-Xia, the title character, and the other on Siu-Sing, her daughter. ( )
  bookwyrmm | Dec 25, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Pros: Vivid depiction of China throughout the time period of the book, plot held my interest even when I didn't really like the characters.

Cons: Violence against women, more sex than I wanted to read about, author who can't seem to decide if this a fairy tale or a gritty realistic novel about women's empowerment through education.

Bottom line: I don't really care for romance novels, even reasonably well-written historical ones. ( )
  IlseBurnley | Mar 11, 2011 |
This novel charts the tale of two women in early twentieth-century China. Li-Xia, the unwanted daughter of a concubine, and her daughter Siu-Sing, who possessed a mixed heritage of East and West. These two women faced similar struggles during their lives and both were challenged by the dominance of men in Chinese society.
I found this novel a little hard to get into and the dialog stilted and formal. Some of the characters, particularly the men, did not seem to be fully developed. I did enjoy the rich detail of life in the period and varying stations of life which Li-Xia and Siu-Sing find themselves in. Much of the novel was themed around male dominance in society and the exploitation of women (I lost track of how many times Li-Xia and her daughter were sold), but this theme is rather tiring after a while, especially when others might be explored. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | Nov 20, 2010 |
Fai’s novel presents us with three women: the concubine (who barely makes an appearance before dying giving birth), her daughter Li-Xia, and Li-Xia’s daughter Siu-Sing. Set in rural China from the early 20th century to 1940, these women lead the hard lives of the poor and powerless. Horrible people seek to control their lives; fortunately, good people shelter them, teach them, and give them hope. All three women are intent on becoming scholars, not the playthings of men. In this place and time, it’s a hard road they travel. Custom, and bad people who would make a profit off them, are against them all the way.

I must admit I’m torn about this book. One the one had, the details of life in China during the period of 1910 to 1940 are incredible. The world of the silk farms, the opium dens and the traders working out of Macao and Hong Kong are richly drawn. The foods, the colors, the smells, the textures are vivid. But the characters leave something to be desired.

There are no shades of gray in this book. The characters are either all good or all bad. No villain has any redeeming qualities; no heroine has any doubts, character flaws or missteps. They stay on their chosen paths without ever wavering. No stopping for fun, no thinking it was all too much to deal with. The heroines are lucky, too, in that they have kind women to look after them, teach them and protect them. Pebble, the Fish, Ruby all devote themselves to the protagonists without regard for themselves. Li-Xia and Sui-Sing are, sadly, Mary Sues.

Did I enjoy the book? Yes, I did. I have a great passion for Chinese history, and this novel brought certain aspects of that history to life. It was worth reading. Did I wish the characters were more rounded and complex? Yes, definitely. ( )
  lauriebrown54 | Jul 4, 2010 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
While some sections of this novel were well written and engaging, overall the overwhelming violence of many passages was unnecessary and a huge turn off. I had to force myself to read through several hundred pages of misogyny and violence in order to review the book. I think the editor could have chopped about a hundred pages from this text and the story would have been just as thorough and perhaps more engaging. ( )
  nickelmoonpoet | Jun 15, 2010 |
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For my wife, Phyllis

Hope Dellon

Al Zuckerman
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Yik-Munn, the farmer, poured another cup of hot rice wine.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312355211, Paperback)

An epic, heart-wrenching story of a mother and daughter’s journey to their destiny.


Lotus Feet. He would give his daughter the dainty feet of a courtesan. This would enhance her beauty and her price, making her future shine like a new coin. He smiled to himself, pouring fresh tea. And it would stop her from running away…


When the young concubine of an old farmer in rural China gives birth to a daughter called Li-Xia, or “Beautiful One,” the child seems destined to become a concubine herself. Li refuses to submit to her fate, outwitting her father’s orders to bind her feet and escaping the silk farm with an English sea captain. Li takes her first steps toward fulfilling her mother’s dreams of becoming a scholar—but her final triumph must be left to her daughter, Su Sing, “Little Star,” in a journey that will take her from remote mountain refuges to the perils of Hong Kong on the eve of World War II.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:14 -0400)

Li-Xia, the daughter of a young concubine to an old silk farmer in rural China, escapes her destiny of becoming a concubine by outwitting her father's orders to bind her feet and running away with an English sea captain, and takes her first steps towards fulfilling her mother's dream of becoming a scholar.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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