Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Crimson China” as Want to Read:
Crimson China
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Crimson China

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  157 ratings  ·  33 reviews
"He glances over at her. Her shoulder length brown hair is matted with wet against the sides of her face, and there are dark circles under her eyes. He is uncertain of her age. Not young, he decides. Thirty? Forty? He finds it impossible to judge with foreigners. Her clothes are ordinary enough: jeans, a long-sleeved t-shirt, and a dark green pullover that now smells of we ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published February 1st 2011 by Short Books (first published October 1st 2010)
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 Crimson China, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Crimson China

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 320)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Robin Hall
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
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
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
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
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.
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 p ...more
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 ange ...more
Jo at Jaffareadstoo
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
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.
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
Really enjoyed this book.

Angie is on Morcambe Bay seafront one night, trying to come to terms with her mothers death and thinking about ending her life, when a storm takes place. She ends end rescuing Wen (a chinese cockle picker) and taking him back to her house. Wen has a twin sister Lili and she comes from China to try and find him as she is told he died in the storm but she does not feel that he is dead. Each chapter alternate's between Wen trying to make a life for himself and Lili trying
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
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
Sandie Reader
This was a recommended reading by my local. Library and I have thoroughly enjoyed the book,
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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.
Zatil Husna
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.
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!
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!
Helen J.
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.
Sally Boocock
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.
Feb 26, 2014 Sarah rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: ebook
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
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
Alison Large
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.
Justine Knight
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.
Melissa Kane
This was a very easy read and I found the bits about the hidden world of illegal immigrants interesting and rather sad.
Mar 06, 2014 ☯Bettie☯ rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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.
June Seghni
thoroughly enjoyed this after winning it in a giveaway from
Diane V-R
A haunting read. I was mesmerised by the writing.
« 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 »
  • Night Shall Overtake Us
  • Coconut Unlimited
  • The Greenhouse
  • Chalcot Crescent
  • Babies in Waiting
  • Pao: A Novel
  • This Perfect World
  • Unsuitable Men
  • Night Waking
  • That Summer in Ischia
  • Split Second
  • Chapman's Odyssey
  • Silk
  • You
  • Death Notice (Kat Campbell #1)
  • The Gentlemen's Tailor
  • Daily Life in Victorian London: An Extraordinary Anthology
  • Pandora's Box
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 Nove ...more
More about Betsy Tobin...
Ice Land Bone House The Bounce The Clockmaster: A Short Story Things We Couldn't Explain

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »