Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “K: The Art of Love” as Want to Read:
K: The Art of Love
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

K: The Art of Love

3.22  ·  Rating Details ·  320 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
Set in 1930s China, this is a true but tragic tale of romance, sexual desire, and untimely death. Beautiful, intelligent, and schooled in the Daoist arts of love, Lin is married to a provincial university professor. Julian Bell, son of Vanessa Bell, and darling of the Bloomsbury set, has arrived in China, hungry for experience. Their mutual attraction leads to a passionate ...more
Paperback, 262 pages
Published November 1st 2002 by Marion Boyars Publishers Ltd (first published November 1st 1999)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about K, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about K

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Caro M.
This is a historical novel you guys. And also an erotic novel, yes, hence the cover, which is supposed to lure readers (believe it or not, I only noticed cherry blossoms at first. I guess female butts don't impress me, because I happen to have one). Yes, you guess right, it's more erotic than historical. But it didn't work for me in both cases.

The book is about the real historical event, a short yet dramatic affair between Julian Bell and Lin Cheng. Or Chang? I was reading it in translation, so
Jul 22, 2010 Jana rated it liked it
Oh-oh-oh-oh-oooh-oh-oh-oh-oooh-oh-oh-oh! Caught in a bad romance. Rah-rah-ah-ah-ah-ah! China-china-china. Ga-ga-ooh-la-la. Want your bad romance. I would recommend this book because of the steamy sex. But those Brits, they had to put their colonial paws on everything.
Kathy Davie
Jun 15, 2013 Kathy Davie rated it it was ok
Shelves: history, erotica
This is a fictional story about real-life people: Julian Bell and Ling Shuhua.

My Take
I suspect it's a cultural difference, but I did not find K: The Art of Love to be erotic. Primarily because I thought Julian Bell was a naive, selfish, egocentric "boy" playing with people. He wanted what he couldn't have, and as soon as he could have it, he didn't want it.

As far as I'm concerned, there was no loss to the world when he died. His family? Yeah...

My father-in-law was an artist and acquainted with t
Oct 31, 2012 Irena rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Jedna od najvećih trešina koje sam ikad pročitala. Ne znam koji mi je vrag bio; u to doba sam pokušala istražiti egzotične pisce. Drugim riječima, čitala sam kineske, japanske, portugalske, španjolske pisce i naišla, između ostalog na ovu knjigu, na Lutkicu iz Pekinga (Chun Sue), Sažeti Kinesko-engleski rječnik za ljubavnike (Xiaolu Guo), djela Wei Hui (sve stavljam u kategoriju trešine. Na sreću naišla sam i na Things Fall Apart (C. Achebe) i na Implacable Order of Things (Peixoto), što svrstav ...more
Jun 25, 2017 Louise rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So well written. I love that it is based on a true story. It is an experience, not just a book, which stays with one.
Jorge Rueda
Jun 13, 2008 Jorge Rueda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
K: El arte del amor, como novela romántica conjuga la trama con la carga erótica de manera precisa, en ese sentido pudiera ser ejemplo de lo que Berlanga y De Moura refieren como la inclusión del erotismo en otros géneros literarios. El componente sensual no es sólo la relación carnal entre sus personajes, sino el encuentro de distintos acercamientos al sexo y deviene en parte fundamental de los entreveros de la novela.

Resulta singular que esta novela escrita por una mujer china narre a través d
Feb 25, 2015 Victoria rated it did not like it
I am one of those people who believe that, yes, you can totally judge a book by its cover.

In this case, it appeared that the author considered Chinese women to not be sexualized nearly enough and inadvertently felt the worst urge to compensate.

I also believe that banning or trashing a book without giving ample reason why can be counterproductive - in this case, leading to more curious, impressionable young girls reading this and taking it far too seriously, or worse, learning from it in subjec
Mar 26, 2007 Beth rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fictional biography-literary
Shelves: biography
This fictional biography is based on an actual relationship between Julian Bell (nephew of Virgina Woolf) & "K" a Chinese intellectual in the 1930s. It is tragic, erotic & simply written. It is an excellent study in contrasts: male/female, Chinese/British, yin/yang as well as similarities such as K being a member of the Chinese version of the Bloomsbery group. A very unique piece of prose. Written by a young Chinese woman, it was fraught with controversy such that she was legally forced ...more
Apr 23, 2010 Grace rated it did not like it
Interesting but in an artistic way, not in a way the average persion can relate to on a daily level.
It is a verbal equivalent of a Merchant Ivory film. You can admire it on a technical level, and even enjoy it, but it's not going to be one of your favourite all time movies.
It's kind of like poetry in the way it decribes colours and smells and sensations. The characters are both self-absorbed in their own differing ways and are obviously doomed from the beginning.
Nov 09, 2009 Elizabeth rated it liked it
Lovely book. Hong Ying writes with a clear elegant style. The bedroom scenes - in Minnesota we'd call them "interesting". I felt like something was missing however and I can't put my finger on it.
Dec 04, 2016 Hana rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Pretentious and slightly pathetic. I didnt feel it at all.
May 21, 2014 Lexie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"La finzione non può essere più erotica di ciò che sperimentiamo nella vita reale".

Nell'ultima pagina di questo splendido tesoro, l'autrice precisa lo scopo che si era prefissata attraverso la narrazione di una storia d'amore, passione, distruzione che non ha niente a che vedere con le spesso banali storie narrateci in questi ultimi anni.

Ammetto d'aver avuto una relazione alquanto complicata con questo romanzo. Appena acquistato, iniziai a leggerlo subito... Curiosa di conoscerne la storia. Poi
Vanessa Wu
Sep 07, 2011 Vanessa Wu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like this book. I am very interested in the real-life people and events in both the Chinese and the English segments of the literary circle.

However, this novel doesn't quite fulfil it's promise. Sometimes its simple sentences work. Sometimes they seem stilted. They aren't charged with emotion. They don't vibrate with life. They stay on the paper.

There are erotic passages and explicitly sexual passages. These I found interesting. The other interactions with the characters were less so. I think
Michael Graeme
Jul 31, 2011 Michael Graeme rated it liked it
I enjoyed the story - not a long book - finished it in a couple of days. Fascinating insights into the so called Bloomsbury set - cast as a bunch of outrageous libertines. Contrary to some comments here, I thought the characters were efficiently drawn and I found myself fascinated by them. In the end the main character, Julian Bell, turned out to be quite heartless, but I think that was simply his nature, his upbringing, and his so called "class". And I hated him for it. As a guy I was more draw ...more
Charlotte (Buried in Books)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Natasa Tovornik
Aug 03, 2011 Natasa Tovornik rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Another journey to China. I liked the characters trying to balance between freedom and love. I thought the portraits and internal dialogues were described really well and also otherwise the book is written in a style that is read easily. Quite an enjoyment and another layer of the China mystery is lifted, many many more remaining...
Aug 07, 2012 Mark rated it it was amazing
beautiful writing, even though I was disappointed that they were not destined to stay together, and after all that love he suddenly despises himself because he realizes he actually is a rascist? its just kind of strange, I was hoping for something different romantic that I am
Danijel Brestovac
Nov 02, 2016 Danijel Brestovac rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Str. 9- Šele veliko pozneje je odkril, da je vsak od nas posameznik, sestavljen iz množice nasprotij.

Str. 10- Edino sporočilo, ki ga prinaša knjiga, je, da so stereotipi ne le bedasti, temveč da so past, v katero se ujamejo prav tisti, ki jih širijo.
Mar 29, 2011 Kristen rated it it was ok
Just kinda weird. I could see the potential, but it didn't really deliver.
Jun 11, 2012 Sunny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like this book. I am very interested in the real-life people and events in both the Chinese and the English segments of the literary circle.

Its was very sensual. And i read it twice .
Ray Noyes
May 26, 2016 Ray Noyes rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't in fact finish this book. After a chapter or two I put it aside, realising naively that it wasn't a book on the imperial court of China but a book full of sex!
Louise Poole
May 17, 2015 Louise Poole rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Couldn't wait to finish !
Not your average starcrossed lovers story, its filled with magic and lots of passion. With that said, a review of the book is unnecesary.

Read it, passion is more and more scarce this days.
Jan 14, 2011 Kirsten rated it it was ok
Long on unremarkable sex scenes and very short on character development. The main character is a shallow, racist asshole and we're given almost nothing about his lover. Pretty dull stuff.
Mar 28, 2008 Richard rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
One thing I liked about this book was the rendering of Julian Bell's British worldview and how it was shaped, almost right up until the end, by a colonial mentality.
Oct 23, 2015 MNLO rated it did not like it
Oh, dear. Do you want yellow fever in a historic setting, combined with more racism and sexism? And a lot of sex scenes? Than this is the book for you.
Jul 19, 2011 Sujaritha rated it it was ok
I wish there were promising works from China.
Marc Seraphs
Marc Seraphs rated it really liked it
Nov 13, 2014
Jelle Devreese
Jelle Devreese rated it really liked it
Apr 13, 2017
George Trakakis
George Trakakis rated it it was ok
Feb 02, 2013
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Sing-Song Girls of Shanghai
  • UFO in Her Eyes
  • The Courtesan and the Samurai (The Shogun Quartet #3)
  • Chronicle of a Blood Merchant
  • The Lost Daughter of Happiness: A Novel
  • Dream of the Walled City
  • The Real Story of Ah-Q and Other Tales of China: The Complete Fiction of Lu Xun
  • Rice
  • Under Fishbone Clouds
  • The Ancient Ship
  • Beyond Illusions
  • The Song of Everlasting Sorrow: A Novel of Shanghai
  • Ocean of Words
  • Last Words from Montmartre
  • Erotic Tales
  • Girl by the Road at Night: A Novel of Vietnam
  • The Other Shore: Plays
  • The Rice Sprout Song
Hong Ying was born in Chongqing in 1962, towards the end of the Great Leap Forward. She began to write at eighteen, leaving home shortly afterwards to spend the next ten years moving around China, exploring her voice as a writer via poems and short stories. After brief periods of study at the Lu Xun Academy in Beijing and Shanghai’s Fudan University, Hong Ying moved to London in 1991 where she as ...more
More about Hong Ying...

Share This Book