The Language of Threads
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The Language of Threads

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  4,374 ratings  ·  256 reviews
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...more
Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Published (first published September 8th 1999)
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I liked Women of the Silk much more than The Language of Threads . Maybe it was because I missed the primary relationship and the struggle against a clearly identified power to this book which was more about Pei's struggle to gain independence in a new place while simultaneously caring for an orphan and then survive the onset of war. I was left wanting more depth in how the characters thought about the impending and then current conflict with the Japanese invaders. There was the beginning of som...more
Rachel Brand
Jul 31, 2009 Rachel Brand rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rachel by: Karen Andersen Miller
Read in Germany, July 2009.

* enjoyed a lot more than the prequel - the plot was more fluid, the characters (especially Pei) were more realistic and better developed, and the writing was also better (although there was a typo on the back cover!). All signs that Tsukiyama's writing had improved immensley.
* I liked the ending of this book more - it seemed to be rounded up better than in the first book.
* still a lot of sadness - Mrs F. and the orphan girl. I understood that it was realistic...more
This novel is a sequel to Women of the Silk, which I haven't read. It opens in the late 1930s, after Pei and Ji Shen have escaped their silk-working village in China and made their way to Hong Kong. The book is full of Pei's reminisces about her earlier life, so one gets a sense of the previous book, but I felt that there were too many instances that referred to Women of the Silk and made me feel like I should have read it first. I prefer a sequel that can stand more on its own. The book gives a...more
The Language of Threads is the sequel to Women of the Silk, which should be read first. The story refers to events that happened in the first book, so I plan to go back and read it. Gail Tsukiyama writes well, providing insight into the customs in China and the lives of Chinese women.

This is the story of a young Chinese girl, Pei, who leaves China and flees to Hong Kong after the invasion of Japan during the Second World War. She worked in a silk factory in a small Chinese town (the first story)...more
Deanna Drai Turner
I don't grant 5 stars very often. This book duo deserves it. The first book is "Women of the Silk" the second "The Language of Threads." As I first engaged in this adventure, I stepped off with trepidation. I wondered if it would be yet another story of the horrors of how the Chinese treat their women. Foot binding. Discarding female babies. Slave trade. Dog worth. Etc...I have read many of these stories in my day, and just wasn't sure my heart was in a place to endure more of that just now. And...more
Jun 08, 2008 Marie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in women's friendships, or Asian cultures
Last year I got the opportunity to hear Tsukiyama speak at a banquet for the Willamette Writers in Portland. She is half Japanese-American and half Chinese-American, and most of her books center around Japan or China. After hearing her speak, I read her first novel, "Women of the Silk" (about women who worked in the silk factories in China) and loved it. "The Language of Threads" picks up where "Women of the Silk" left off.

I can see that Tsukiyama's writing has only improved in the interval betw...more
Delicious Strawberry
My only complaint is that this book wasn't published in one volume with 'Women of the Silk', because both books didn't really feel like separate tales. Rather, they felt more like two halves of one tale, especially because of the way 'Women of the Silk' ended and this one begun. Still, it was a lovely and poignant tale as Pei has to deal with the tumult of the Japanese invading China (this book starts in the late 1930's) and shows that even no matter how tenacious and determined some people are...more
I think I would have like this better if my expectations had not been so high, but after reading Tsukiyama's "Samurai's Garden," her "Language of Threads" was a disappointment. It is set in pre War II and then during WW II Hong Kong but there is not much subtlety here - it is Japanese Devils versus the Chinese. The protagonist is a silk worker and I craved more information about this interesting dying profession - there were hints about the silk sisterhood and the vows of the silk sisterhood but...more
This is a sequel to Women of the Silk, which I haven't read. However, there is plenty of reminiscence of the past to have a good idea of the previous book. It takes place in China and Hong in the 1930s and 1940s, during the Japanese invasion/occupation. So, life is extremely difficult. What makes it liveable is the women's commitment to and caring for each other: Women who, as children were made leave their families to work in the silk factories, who have known hard work and deprivation and have...more
What a great author. She weaves a great tale, drawing you in bit by bit.
Absolutely loved it. It's a sequel to [The Women of Silk]. The story continues with Pei and Ji Shen fleeing China to Hong Kong because of the Japanese occupation. There they start to build a new life for themselves. Pei's strength and resilience is put to the test many times over as she learns how to fend for herself and then look after Ji Shen in this new world, taking on new work as a laundress, a domestic helper and later on a seamstress. As the Japanese bomb Hong Kong, round up the British i...more
The enduring strength of family ties, the deep bonds of sisterhood, the power of women to survive in a harsh world and grief over the loss of love that abides til death, are all themes woven into the continuing tale of Pei, a Chinese girl from a poor family. The first part of her story is told in "Women of the Silk" and this book picks up there and follows her through WWII in Hong Kong and up through 1973 when she seems to be in her 60's. It could be a stand alone book however. Though the girls...more

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....more
Brenda Fabig
If the first book I had picked up from Tsukiyama happened to be LoT or WotS, I probably wouldn't have returned to her writing. Not because it's bad (far from it), but it seemed like a second draft most of the time. Luckily, I read The Samurai's Garden and The Street of a Thousand Blossoms far beforehand, and I am her devout fan. To anyone who has not read Tsukiyama but plans to, don't be deterred by Language of Threads or by Women of the Silk; she is a fluid and dazzling writer.
This novel, as we...more
Angela Gaskell
I thought this book was fast-paced. Although I never read its prequel, I got a lot out of the context and flashbacks. The author does a good job continuing the story and also reminding the readers of the first book. I get a feel for the work done in the silk manufacturing world based on these memories and stories (flashbacks), but there's good that comes of it. There's always a feeling of sisterhood. The writer is a positive writer, if that makes sense. Even though some of the events are horribl...more
This is a sequel to Women of the Silk, although you do not need to read Women of the Silk in order to understand The Language of Threads. Pei flees with Ji Shen, an orphan from the silk factory, to Hong Kong to run away from the Japanese. (They took over the small village in mainland China where Pei had worked for years in the silk factory. Hong Kong was safe for the time being). Pei finds work as "domestic" help in a rich home in Hong Kong and continues to support Ji Shen while Ji Shen goes to...more
Lilian Garcia
Our bookclub reads a wide variety of interesting books, some good, some not so good. The Language of Threads presented us with an opportunity to read about the experiences of both the Chinese and the British in Hong Kong in WW2, as well as to share a little with the select group of Sisters of the Silk.

How disappointed were we?

The Language of Threads reads like a hastily thrown together novel, and we found ourselves wondering if it were the poor sister to a richer "Women of Silk". The lead charac...more
while i didn't enjoy this as much as 'women of the silk', i did get a lot out of it as a novel of historical fiction. it gives a quick (albeit perhaps simplistic) look at hong kong and china during and following world war ii, and i feel like i learned a fair amount.

after reading both of these books, i'm left wondering about how realistic the heroine's character is. this is the first book i've read that has a plucky, strong-by-western-standards chinese heroine. at several points during the books...more
Mirah W
A marvelous conclusion to the story begun in 'Women of the Silk'. Pei and Ji Shen have made their way to Hong Kong and their life will not be easy. New country, new people, new ways of living...Pei and Ji Shen must each find a way to survive in Hong Kong...when Japan is on the brink of invading. Some wonderful new characters in this book....Quan, Song Lee, and Mrs.Finch. Each new character helps Pei and Ji Shen learn a little bit more about themselves, their relationship with others, and their p...more
I was bummed I didn't like this book better; I had heard good things about it and it came highly recommended by a good friend. I don't know how much was because I hadn't read Women of the Silk first and thus wasn't already connected to Pei and Ji Shen, but it was hard for me to care about any of the characters. The fast-forwarding of time also seemed to distance me from the characters and I am unsure of what I am supposed to take away from the story.
phaedra lewis
This book was part of a large number of books I received as a friend was clearing out her books. I suspect I would find it even more immersive if I had read the first book in the series, but it is the kind of intriguing historical piece that has enough fact and major historical events to remain realistic, with the interaction of expectation and social more at the the time, but coupled with interesting characters and unexpected events to engage far more than a cold recitation of history can. I wa...more
I read Women of the Silk this past summer and really liked the book. This time, however, this sequal felt much like a hollywood movie sequel. It was all fluff and very little substance. The plot was thin and didn't include many of the details I would expect from 1940 Hong Kong. Having just finished Unbroken this account of WWII Hong Kong was not impressive. The characters were a continuation of the Women of the Silk so there was not a much time spent on character development. If you haven't read...more
Terri Tinkel
I enjoyed the sequel to Women Of The Silk. I wanted to find out what happened so some of the original characters. In some ways, I enjoyed the first book most because it took the reader through what happened to a young girl until she grew up. It began in 1919 and ended in 1938. In this book, the sequel, the reader follows the main character, Pei, through to 1973. It was a quickly moving story. It was interesting, informative, happy and sad. I found myself in Pei's life, wondering what choices I w...more
Really enjoyed yet another book by Tsukiyama. This was much better than its prequel, Women of the Silk, but you have to read that first to follow the story. This was much more colorful and lively. I always enjoy reading historical fiction about Asia especially during WWII.
Gail Tsukiyama’s books remind me of silk paintings with their subtlety and depth of hue. The theme of this book is one often found in the Chinese classics – the importance of family. Pei lost one family when she was sold into the silk industry. There, she is adopted into a new family, the sisterhood of the silk workers. When she is forced to flee Canton because of the Japanese invasion, she takes with her Ji Shen, an adolescent orphan. In Hong King, with the help of the sisterhood, she is able t...more
Sequel to "Women of the Silk"!

Readers of 'Women of the Silk' never forgot the moving story of Pei, brought to work in the silk house as a young girl. Now we learn what happened to Pei as she arrives in 1930's Hong Kong with a young orphan, Ji Shen, in her care. Soon Pei and Ji Shen find a new life in the home of Mrs. Finch, a British expatriate. But war, and the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong, tear everything apart, and Pei is once again forced to make her own way, struggling to survive and t...more
i liked the book very much. it has so many characters but it covers all the events and the story .
it gives the feeling that you know the character. it describes the whole life.
This is an incredible story of friendship, family and the ties that bind. It also shows how resilient people are and what they can do when people help each other.
This is a sequel to the book called Women of the Silk in which Pei, the young Chinese woman given to silk work by her poor family, is the main character. The story is interesting--exciting even--as Pei relocates to Hong Kong, endures the onslaught of the Japanese, begins a small business and is re-united with Li, her older sister. But the writing in much of the book is not of the caliber of Women of the Silk. Sentences are very simply constructed, and there are no lyrical descriptive passages--i...more
D. Prokop
Haunting and wonderful. A big influence on my own writing. Gail's style is so engaging. I love being transported into a new world by her storytelling.
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Born to a Chinese mother and a Japanese father in San Francisco, Gail Tsukiyama now lives in El Cerrito, California. Her novels include Women of the Silk (1991), The Samurai's Garden (1995), Night of Many Dreams (1998), The Language of Threads (1999), Dreaming Water (2002), and The Street of a Thousand Blossoms (2007).
More about Gail Tsukiyama...
The Samurai's Garden Women of the Silk The Street of a Thousand Blossoms A Hundred Flowers Night of Many Dreams

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