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Crimson China

3.63  ·  Rating Details ·  208 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
On a freezing night in February, a woman wades into the waters of Morecambe Bay in a drunken bid to commit suicide. Braced for death, she finds herself instead saving a man's life - a young Chinese cockle picker, one of the only survivors of a tragic mass drowning.
Paperback, 375 pages
Published February 1st 2010 by Short Books
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Aug 02, 2011 Robin rated it really liked it
This book was an impulsive Kindle purchase, but a very successful one. The central characters are twin brother and sister who were orphaned by the 1976 Tangshan earthquake in China's Hebei province. When she hears that her brother was one of the cockle-pickers killed in Morecambe Bay in 2004, Zhang Lili travels to England to find out more about how he came to be caught up in that tragedy.

This book was of particular interest to me having grown up in the Northwest of England and currently living i
Sep 02, 2014 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely loved this tale of Angie, a lonely and angry woman who, drawn to the seashore one stormy night, ends up rescuing Wen, a Chinese cockle-picker, from the sea. Taking him back to her house she does not know what to do about him in the aftermath of a disaster in which 18 of Wen's compatriots have drowned in the rising tide. Initially uncomfortable with each other, the two grow closer and Wen soon finds himself settling down to life with Angie. However, Wen still owes a lot of money to the ...more
Sep 11, 2011 Don rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uk-novel
Well intentioned story about a survivor of the 2004 Morecombe Bay tragedy. Wen Zhang is rescued from the surging waters by Angie - a depressed, alcoholic with her own story of displacement and anomie to tell. Meanwhile a twin sister is in the background in China - the redoubtable Lili, who ups stakes to travel to the UK in the belief that she might be able to set her brother's ghost at rest.

Their respective stories provide the frame for thumbnail sketches of the lives of 'illegal' migrant worker
Jun 23, 2012 Bluejay44 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting book that I have read in one session, although it has sat in my reading pile for months. I would give it 4.5 stars, well as a good read it gave me lots of food for thought regarding immigration and the need that drives many to illegal entry here.

It certainly opened my eyes to the existance of parallel worlds here in the Uk and probably elsewhere.
Invisible, unless a disaster brings the illegal immigrants into focus. What lives they must lead, with no recourse to medical care, educa
Nov 14, 2011 Bertieob rated it liked it
Was an easy read and made you think about how hard life can befor illegal immigrants in the UK.

I wasnt convinced by certainparts of thebook, but still found it very enjoyable.
Dec 01, 2016 Chris rated it liked it
Yet again by reading one of our bookclub choices I have learnt about another culture. This time China. The book starts with a scenario based on the terrible tragedy of the Chinese cockle pickers in Morecombe bay. It is about one that is rescued by a sad lonely woman and the story goes on to explore their relationship and how he came to be a cockle picker. The characters are well written and the various threads developed through the book come together satisfactorily on the whole. My only ...more
May 26, 2011 Felice rated it really liked it
Crimson China starts out at the deep end of the drama pool. A woman, drunk, sets out to drown herself but ends up saving the life of a young man instead. The man is Wen, an illegal Chinese immigrant. He was almost drowned while working as a cockle-picker in Morecambe Bay, England. (Cockles are small saltwater clams.) The tide came in too quickly and he got trapped. Angie, Wen's savior, takes him home and tries to nurse him back to health but it isn't long before their relationship changes from ...more
Mar 06, 2014 Bettie☯ rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Libbeth; radio 4 listeners
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Julie Hudson
Apr 16, 2016 Julie Hudson rated it liked it
Easy to read tale based on the true life events of the cockle pickers disaster in Morecambe Bay where several immigrants drowned.

It gave an insight into the underground world of illegal work in the UK in a sympathetic tone and was non-judgemental. Didn't really feel attached to any of the characters though, I think there could be a better approach of intertwining fiction with this tragic real life event that would be neater.

There were too many loose ends (which I see someone else mentions in th
Jul 25, 2012 Diane rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012-books
Angie is about to chuck herself into Morecomb Bay, a year after her mother's suicide. There's a raging storm and the strong tides will do the trick but as she wades into the water, she finds she's not alone and there's a young Chinese man struggling. He is Wen, an illegal immigrant who was with a team of cockle-harvesters, all of whom were drowned by the tides in the storm. Angie rescues him and takes him home. He can barely speak a few words of English and she's broken inside, soothing her ...more
Jo Barton
Jun 02, 2011 Jo Barton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When the tragedy of the Morecambe Bay cockle pickers hit the headlines in 2004, it caused a media furore. This account imagines what might have happened to a survivor of that horrific incident. Cockle picker Wen, is found washed up on Morecambe beach. His unlikely rescuer is alcoholic Angie, who is besieged by her own demons. Together, this unlikely couple begin to put each other back together again.
Wen's sister Lili believes him to be dead, but arrives in London in order to come to terms with h
Mar 01, 2012 Pauline rated it really liked it
The characters in this fourth novel are convincing and the style reminded me of one of Amy Tan’s books, full of myths and Chinese rituals and superstitions. Tobin’s language is descriptive and I found the story melancholic and uplifting at the same time. I can definitely recommend this book.
Tobin has managed to write a beautiful love story. She succeeds in describing life in an illegal community as in a parallel world, where immigrants live as shadows in hiding from the snakeheads and police. Ch
Daisy Craydon
Aug 14, 2016 Daisy Craydon rated it really liked it
Did not expect this book to be half as good as it was!

The pace of the novel is what had me read it within 4 hours and I was drawn to each narrative. The chapters alternate between Wen an illegal Chinese immigrant who gets saved on the night of the tragic Morecambe Bay accident, by an English woman who is going through a severe case of depression. She takes him into her home and from there one side of the story unfolds. The other chapter is based on Wen's twin sister who comes over to the UK in
Jun 05, 2011 Alexa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I chose to read this book because I live in the Morecambe Bay area & vividly remember the tragedy of the drowned cockle-pickers & all the news reports that followed. I just thought it would be interesting to read & I didn't expect the story to take hold of me so strongly, but it was a nice surprise. I don't often give 5 stars but I honestly can't fault this book. It explores many themes including, love, loss, fate, identity, cultural differences, humanity.
Apart from all this it was a
Oct 09, 2011 Erssie rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
I thought the story was not bad, though lost its way towards the end.
As I read it on a Kindle, I was able to do a word search on expressions that were repetitive.

''steaming'' as in tea, food, bathwater used 14 a bit of repetition.
'' raised an eyebrow''..all characters apparently were able to raise one eyebrow, and this ecpression was used 70....yes SEVENTY times throughout the book.....really excessive repetition.

The Kindle is going to expose poor writing like never before and we wo
Oct 30, 2012 Bee rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 17, 2011 Stephanie rated it liked it
Overall this was a good summer read. fast moving plot, and kept you guessing where things were going to go. I did think some of the characters were a little thin on the ground but overall you could tell she did her research so appreciated the detail about the circumstances of the characters. very interesting storyline concept. would be a book I would recommend.
Julie (73)
Apr 02, 2016 Julie (73) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chinese, kindle, 2016-read
I thoroughly enjoyed this and wish I'd read it sooner rather than leaving on the tbr for so long. This held my attention from page one and kept me reading wanting to find out more. A good 4.5 from me and will be seeking out the authors back catalogue. I would like to have found out a little more of what life held for Lilli though.
Sally Boocock
Dec 08, 2010 Sally Boocock rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I really enjoyed this book. A tragic subject but treated very well. Living near Morecambe it is very easy to imagine the places described. Fiction made from fact but in a manner that makes it an enjoyable read. Ididnt want to put it down.
Jun 30, 2014 Junying rated it it was amazing
A wonderfully crafted book about Chinese immigrants in the UK, following the Morecambe Bay tragedy.

I'm impressed with the author's insight into China and Chinese people, and her compassion to the people who live in the parallel world in the UK.

Beautifully written and touching!
Helen J.
Aug 24, 2012 Helen J. rated it really liked it
I found this book really hard to put down! The characters were fascinating and the storyline tragically gripping. My only criticism is the lack of loose-end tying. As the novel ended I felt like there was still so much more I needed to know about Angie and Lilli in particular.
Zatil Husna
Oct 13, 2013 Zatil Husna rated it really liked it
It was quite an epiphany. It was dark but immediately captures you. The dark reality gets to you at some point. Tobin's imagery of each character absorbs into the image play. Though the end was not quite there yet, but it was a good read, sucking you into another world the moment you start reading.
Oct 27, 2012 Parijat rated it really liked it
Read this on a marathon book reading vacation in the back alleys of Krabi.... Stood out because of the characters developed by the author. It's not the story, but the people that make this one special. Plus, I like anything historically inclined! So it was a refreshing read!
Jun 22, 2014 Jane rated it liked it
Shelves: contemporary
or 7/10. This was a very enjoyable read, despite the often harrowing subject matter which was based on actual tragic events. Very well paced - if I have marked it down slightly it is due to the slightly unrealistic Disney ending.
Justine Knight
Aug 07, 2013 Justine Knight rated it liked it
An easy to read book that provide valuable insight into the lives of illegal immigrants working in the uk, a good one to pick up.
Alison Large
Aug 16, 2013 Alison Large rated it really liked it
Enjoyed it very much. Really like the 2 storylines coming together towards the end. Was a little disappointed with the ending, felt there was more to come.
Jul 07, 2015 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ebooks-kobo
This was one of 12 books I read whilst on holiday. Most of them I have forgotten about, but this story stayed in my head for ages after I'd finished it. A great read.
Diana Horner
Mar 04, 2012 Diana Horner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kept my interest all the way through. Against the background of the Morecambe Bay cockling tragedy, the characters were well drawn, and there was tension throughout
Melissa Kane
Oct 05, 2012 Melissa Kane rated it liked it
This was a very easy read and I found the bits about the hidden world of illegal immigrants interesting and rather sad.
Oonagh Collins
Oonagh Collins rated it liked it
May 09, 2013
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Goodreads Librari...: Same ISBN, different editions 3 14 Jan 02, 2015 06:07PM  
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Betsy Tobin was born in the U.S. and moved to England in 1989, where she now lives with her husband and children. Her first novel, Bone House, was short-listed for the Commonwealth Prize, and won the Herodotus Prize in the United States. Her other novels include The Bounce, Ice Land, and Crimson China. Crimson China was Radio 4 Book At Bedtime in the UK, and was short-listed for Epic Romantic ...more
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