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The Concubine's Daughter
Pai Kit Fai
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The Concubine's Daughter

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  2,637 ratings  ·  235 reviews

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

Paperback, 496 pages
Published September 29th 2009 by St. Martin's Press (first published 2009)
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I probably would have liked this book better if it had been better researched, but I kept tripping over factual errors. The author claims his background in martial arts and traditional Chinese medicine gave him enough information to write a book on Chinese history, but he should have done more formal research if he intended this to be historical fiction. In the novel, he states that Macao was ceded to Portugal because the Portuguese defeated the pirate Koxinga, but Koxinga died in 1662 and Macao...more
So many complaints about this book:

1. This book is supposedly historical fiction, but it doesn't have nearly enough history. This story could have taken place in almost any time during recent-ish Chinese history. I picked this up because I wanted to read about Hong Kong in the 1900s, but this story really didn't have much to do with that specific time period (WWII is only hinted at becoming a threat) -- or Hong Kong, for that matter. And the ending takes this book into fantasy territory, which i...more
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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,...more
I have to admit that I struggled to make it through 50 pages of this book before I put it aside.
I’ve read and loved books many historical fiction books about the East including The Joy Luck Club, Tai Pan, Shogun, Memoirs of a Geisha, The Bonesetter’s Daughter, etc. but this one failed to engage me from the start. The characters were flat caricatures. I never felt I was fully inside any one before we switched to a different person’s POV. The historical details seemed to be jammed into the story,...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Wow - this was a book I couldn't put down - it was one of the most consuming stories I have read in a long time - highly recommended. (Altho, I am always highly amused to read the posted reviews - anywhere from 1 to 5 stars - it's true that we all have different tastes!!!) Anyway, the story is about three generations of Chinese women (Pai-Ling, Li-Xia, and Sui-Sing) who are all raised in the male dominated society of China during the early 1900s where women are treated as casually as unwanted ki...more
Wan Ni
An epic tale spanning three generations of headstrong women damned to suffer the worst and most bizarre of fates. An Orientalist novel through and through, with requisite themes of foot-binding, human trafficking, prostitution, female homoerotic encounters masquerading as intimate friendship, geishas, kungfu and silkworms. The author is British, despite his Chinese name. His research involves travelling extensively to the Far East in his youth, and possibly entering teahouses where girls played...more
I wish I could have had more of some parts of this book and less of others. The fact that this book is split up between two separate stories (that of the mother and that of the daughter) resulted in somewhat of a disjointed feeling. I think the author could have combined the two stories together into a more dynamic story line. I feel like she rushed through certain parts, leaving them with a half formulated feel, in an attempt to cram in a whole lot of unneeded “stuff”.

With that said, there are...more
Ana Mardoll
The Concubine's Daughter / 978-0-312-35521-0

I was excited about "The Concubine's Daughter" because the teaser write-up compared it to one of my favorite novels in recent memory, "Memoirs of a Geisha". Unfortunately, "The Concubine's Daughter" is not, in my opinion, anything like "Memoirs of a Geisha", and the best comparison I can offer is that it feels like a bare-bones, watered-down attempt at an Amy Tan novel.

"Memoirs of a Geisha", for all its faults, was populated by human beings, not carica...more
This is an epic story I couldn't put down spanning the lives of three generations of Chinese women. Pai Ling is sold to a spice farmer by a once prosperous family escaping Shanghai, but we barely get to know her as the story moves on to the life of her daughter Li-Xia. This part of the story at Ten Willows silk factory I loved the most and it really moved me, it could have been a book on it's own! The final part of the story sees the granddaughter Siu-Sing picking up the pieces to honour her fat...more
First off, can I say I love Li Xia & Siu Sing's names? I am Chinese too and I think Siu Sing (a Cantonese name if I'm not wrong) translates into Xiao Xing in Mandarin, literally Little Star. :D

Anyway, I am very impressed by the quality of writing in this book. Pai Kit Fai has written a really spellbounding book, with detailed and beautiful (and sometimes ugly) descriptions of all the places and people, grand or dilapidated, beautiful or hideous, these three generations of strong women have b...more
This novel is my first goodreads giveaway win. I was very excited about this book arriving, however, I'm not sure it lived up to my expectations or the description provided.

The first part of the story, about Li Xia, the concubine's daughter, I very much enjoyed. I know that many of the characters lacked depth or were too black and white, but there were moments of nuance and insight that helped to progress the story and the development of the main character. I couldn't help cheering for her, feel...more
Sara Beresford
I enjoyed reading this book because the subject of women/girls in China is really interesting to me. But I thought that, of all of the books I've read on this subject, this is the most poorly written. The characters are really one-dimensional, and there is a bunch of stuff that just doesn't make sense. The three generations of girls in this book speak/think in a manner totally inappropriate for their age. The author describes thoughts, conversations and actions of 7-10 year old girls that just w...more
I have read several stories of concubines and their lives. Certainly, "A Concubine's Daughter" provided a lot more details regarding the life of women in China both concubine and bond servant.

Overall, I thought the story of Li-Xia (daughter of concubine Pai-Ling)and interesting one. At times, it seemed too long and tedious. Her life with the mung-cha-cha, her "assigned' family while working on the silk farm for Ming-Chou flowed. The story seemed to bog down once she arrived at Sky House. I found...more
Kathy Chung
Reviewed At : Mama Kucing Meow : The Concubine's Daughter by Pai Kit Fai

Reviewed on : 13 February 2011

I love the first part of this book very much. Li-Xia's plight was very real and vivid. I was really depressed to read of the cruelty of the people against her.

But the same cannot applies to the part of her daughter, Siu Sing. It seems so far fetch and like a scene out of those Hong Kong TVB Kungfu Drama where one go to learn martial arts up the mountains. As suddenly as she was whisked up the mo...more
Aug 25, 2009 Lesley rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Alissa, Julie, Diana
Shelves: first-reads
My first book won from Goodreads! (Yeah! Free book!)

I really enjoyed the writing and the descriptions of colors, sounds, and textures. The story itself was well written and kept my interest. There were peaks and valleys of emotions, which made the stories of the concubine, her daughter and granddaughter all the more dramatic and interesting. I did not like the character of Ruby and was put off by some of the scenes with her, they just seemed unlikely and sort of bordered on child abuse! But, hav...more
Something about the book was too similar to the others in this category, Chinese historical fiction,the stilted way that its written , and the roles of women, which are confined by the context naturally.
Differences were that a female character becomes a martial art expert on a spiritual level with the ability to kick ass, but of course she ends up in a woman's establishment before she can use this higher power to solve her problems. often fascinating and easy to read but because i sometimes had...more
I definitely enjoyed the first half of this book as it dealt with Li Xia. I am was not so into the Siu Sing (Li Xia's daughter) half. I felt like a lot of the interactions were forced between Siu Sing and her enemy, and the story did not flow well. I am not sure why Ruby was even included in the story. I felt like the author was trying to write some mystical Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon scene with Siu Sing and I was completely bored by it. Pat Kit Fai should talk to his editor as there were so...more
Yik-Munn, like a vulture, swoops in to purchase Pai-ling, a fifteen year-old girl, whose once prosperous family has fallen upon hard times. As the fourth in line wife of this seventy-two year old man her life is dismal.

Pai-Ling was an intelligent well-bred young lady who Yik-Munn was determined to "beat that foolishness out of her and change the insolent light in her eyes to one of gratitude and respect..."

The hatred of women in this culture is sadly sobering and the ease with which even an infa...more
I stopped reading it halfway. It was disappointing, despite the good reviews on amazon.

Worst Chinese historical fiction, written by a white man Geoffry Morgan Pike. Can't expect much from this book, it starts by focusing a lot on Chinese culture and rituals jammed into a book and that all Chinese men are perverts/rapist. Not to mention that western men are angels from heaven, because they're so kind and wonderful.

The book is unrealistic, it doesn't fall into history context. The writing is fla...more
Jan 27, 2014 Amy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone with a love of Chinese culture and historical fiction novels
I've had this novel on my kindle almost since I bought it two years ago. I've never gotten around to reading it because there's been so many other books that I've wanted to read first. I've finally got the time to just pick some random books on my kindle (of which there are lots!) and read them at my leisure. I have to say I'm not disappointed with this one.

I actually decided to read this book rather than the others on my kindle because I loved the world of Eastern culture as shown in Memoirs o...more
I won an advanced copy in GiveAways, thank you GoodReads!

Poignant and memorable, The Concubine’s Daughter is an epic tale that follows a mother and daughter through the early 1900s in traditional China. Li and Su Sing are headstrong heroines tossed into traumatic and undesirable circumstances, including being treated like (or worse than) cattle. In a time when men had numerous wives and wanted only sons, how will these two survive much less attain the literacy and education they crave?

Li’s moth...more
A novel set in China in the 1920s about Siu Sing, the daughter of a Chinese mother and the foreign devil ship's captain who rescued her from death. Raised until the age of twelve by an elderly Taoist sage who is master of the White Crane and trained as one of his last disciples, she is sold into slavery after he's assassinated. After spending her teenage years in an opium den, she begins a quest to find Ben Deverill, the father she never knew, and to reclaim her birthright.

This book is split acr...more
The Goodread’s book description pretty much sums up the extent of the story about The Concubine’s Daughter. I admit that the story blew me away. It is simply beautiful and tragic. Words don’t provide enough description for how intense the feeling is when you read it. A mother and daughter forever separated by a horrific event, each one with a story of her own. They are linked, yet separate from one another. Li X’ia broke my heart. I remember sobbing by the time I reached the end of her tale. I h...more
Oct 06, 2009 Kathy rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of Chinese historical fiction
Recommended to Kathy by: first reads win
This was a first-reads win.

The Concubine's Daughter is beautifully and lyrically written. There are lots of details about what life was like for women in China during this era. I was really pulled into the setting and the surroundings by the author's wonderful descriptive voice.
Like others, my favorite part of this book was by far the description of life on the silk farm. Very detailed and, again, some beautiful imagry.
My problem with this book is that I had a difficult time feeling any connec...more
The characters of the daughter and granddaughter are beautifully developed. The denigrated role of women and descriptions of locations, occupations and attitudes give the western reader a window to Chinese culture between 1900 and 1942. The desire for education and scholarship give meaning to the lives of the mother and daughter, and to some extent the granddaughter. The transition from one generation to the next is filled with tragedy--almost gratuitous. There really is no need for both mothers...more
This book is historical fiction set in China, but there is really no indication what the time period is. The book has beautiful descriptions of practically everything. Most people may not enjoy this, but I did. The writing style was average, and there were some interesting things I picked up, like the century egg. With a different story, I might actually have got immersed in the book.

But in spite of good writing and some enjoyable descriptions, this book is not very believable.
I don’t believe t...more
Chantelle Roberts
I've always been interested in Chinese history and the corrupt way females were treated. So when I glanced at this title I was expecting a novel that was as heart breaking as "Memoirs of a Geisha."

The book started off well, by how a baby daughter would be killed for not being a son. That part made obvious sense for that time and so did Pai-ling's death.
But the story started getting more and more unrealistic by how Li-Xia seemed to always get out of complicated situations. She did thrive to make...more
This was one of the most consuming stories I've read in a while and in my opinion a must read. Truly like going back in time and seeing what life could have been like for a Chinese girl/woman born in such an unjust time for women. I love how Pai Kit Fai mixes old world spirituality, history, tragedy, triumph, hope, and a little magic and mysticism over the course of three generations of Mothers and Daughters. Such wonderful writing fills these pages that I cannot begin to convey in brevity how v...more
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Pai Kit Fai is a pseudonym for Geoff Pike.

Geoff Pike is a British-born, naturalized Australian writer.

Born in Tottenham Middlesex, he took an all-consuming interest in art and writing from the age of 3. His early years were spent in the German blitzkrieg of London and as an evacuee in the rural county of Essex. His letter to President Roosevelt thanking him for 'Bundles for Britain', was chosen f...more
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