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Wege Der Seidenfrauen
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Wege Der Seidenfrauen

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  11,281 ratings  ·  808 reviews
Sent by her family to work in a silk factory just prior to World War II, young Pei grows to womanhood, working fifteen-hour days and sending her pay to the family who abandoned her.

In "Women of the Silk" Gail Tsukiyama takes her readers back to rural China in 1926, where a group of women forge a sisterhood amidst the reeling machines that reverberate and clamor in a vast s
Published (first published October 1st 1991)
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Apr 24, 2012 Jordan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Beth
Recommended to Jordan by: Liz
If you are just starting with Gail Tsukiyama then I recommend starting with this book. Gail Tsukiyama is Chinese/Japanese American and her books take place mostly in China/Hong Kong around the second World War. This book, "Women of the Silk", tells the story of a young girl who lives in a world where daughters are married off and those that aren't go to work in the newly thriving silk factories. Contrary to the silk work being along the lines of forced labor it is actually an opportunity for the ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Gail Tsukiyama's "Women of the Silk" is an interesting look into the lives of women who worked in the silk factories in China, in the early 20th century. Come to find out, this grueling labor actually gave these women a kind of freedom from traditional marriage roles, as they lived independently, off their own earnings. Tsukiyama follows a young girl, Pei, through to her years as a young adult, having been left without explanation at the silk factory by her father when she was little. Tsukiyama' ...more

This was a good story. I enjoyed the details of Chinese village life and the silk work. Yet, I couldn't help feeling that the characters lacked emotional resonance. They were somewhat flat, and at times both the feeling and the dialogue came across as forced and contrived. Tsukiyama made an effort to point out the bond of the "sisterhood" among the silk workers, but I would rather have felt that connection myself.

That said, it was not an altogether unengaging read. This is Tsukiyama's first nov
Dawn (& Ron)
Mar 09, 2012 Dawn (& Ron) rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who love learning about different cultures and times
Approaching this review has been difficult for me due to my confusion over this book. There was so much I enjoyed and learned from this book that this easily could have been a top read if only certain incidents didn't take me away from the book. This was my first buddy read and it brought a wonderful level of enjoyment to the read, thanks Jeannette! I loved the moving, poignant and empowering story of Pei and her sister silk workers, their simplicity and strength can't help but move you. Overall ...more
Women of the Silk, Gail Tsukiyama's first novel, is well worth its strong reputation. We had the great pleasure of hosting the author at the Hayward Public Library in February 2009. As a member of the audience commented, readers can count on learning a lot from Tsukiyama's novels. In Women of the Silk, we follow the principal character, Pei, who is essentially abandoned by her family when she is a young girl, sent off to the nearest silk-making factory to earn a living that will help her family ...more
This book had such potential, yet failed to deliver. It was a good book, yet it could have been better. The characters did not progress. I would have loved to get to know them better, to understand their struggles and to feel what they felt. Maybe it’s the culture and they must remain guarded in fiction also. The synopsis of the book stated that it was about a strike at a silk factory in rural China in the 1920’s and 1930’s, but it was about so much more than that. This was the story of the youn ...more
Quite obviously a first novel- not a great work of literature but entertaining. Everyone seems to go on about how empowering this book is to women, but I found that element of the novel limited in scope, since the only women who are successful completely reject men and those who don't are destroyed by their heterosexual realtionships. I like boys, damnit!
After recently hearing Tsukiyama speak in person, I decided to go back and read her novels in order. This is an excellent first novel, about the lives of women in China working in the silk trade. I loved it! Excellent story of women's friendship.
I loved every word of this book! Historical fiction at its best, the last book that touched me in the way Women of The Silk did while reading was A Thousand Splendid Suns. This is the first book I've read by the author and must say her writing style and ability to transport you back in time/in to the characters is good.

The message in this book is sisterhood, girl power, fighting for rights and survival of the fitest in times of austerity. All set in a time and culture when women were married off
Women of the Silk, was the debut novel written by Gail Tsukiyama, and first published in 1991. Ms. Tsukiyama is a new to me author.

Pei is one of the several Chinese daughters born to a poverty stricken fish farm family, dominated the father. She is the outgoing and curious child, and according to the fortune teller that her father takes her to, she is the “non marrying” type. When another girl is born to the family (who dies soon after), Pei's father decides her fate. He arranges to sell her to
One of my students recommended this to me as one of her favorites, and I enjoyed it as well. It reminded me a little of one of my summer reads "The Blood of Flowers" which I liked even more than this. Reading about the silk factories of China in the 1920s-30s was very interesting, and I like novels that take me to new places. An easy and entertaining read.
This review pretty much sums up my thoughts:

This book had such potential, yet failed to deliver. It was a good book, yet it could have been better. The characters did not progress. I would have loved to get to know them better, to understand their struggles and to feel what they felt. Maybe it’s the culture and they must remain guarded in fiction also. The synopsis of the book stated that it was about a strike at a silk factory in rural China in the 1920’s and 1930’s, but it was about so much mo
I enjoyed reading Ms. Tsukiyama's other book "The Samurai's Garden" so much that I went to my local library seeking other books from this same author and saw this book. It was a very quick read at under 200 pgs but I did not like it as much as "The Samurai's Garden" which I found to be all engrossing. I now see that she wrote "Women of the Silk" in 1993 and "The Samurai's Garden" in 1996 and so I am going to seek out more of her contemporary novels since I think with time, most writers get bette ...more
Got it off my grandmother's back porch when she was getting rid of a bunch of books, but was sad to find it not really worth reading. Very surface-level story, too many cheap tricks and gimmicks, too many questions left unanswered.
It could have been a great novel! in the hands of another author. Tsukiyama's knowledge of the history of silk factories and the Japan-China conflict of the 1930s is clear - and the historical information woven into the story was interesting. But having a novel range o
Women in rural China in the early part of the 20th century didn't have many choices. Yet, when taken or sold to the silk factory, it turns out that there they can choose to go through the hairdressing ceremony which binds them to the sisterhood of the silk workers forever. They can't be given or sold into marriage. When Pai's father takes her away and leaves her at a home without telling her what he is doing, she becomes a silk factory worker and finds a community of women who become family, who ...more
Touching story set during the 1930’s when Japan was invading China about a girl who is born in extreme poverty in the hillside on a fish farm, and her parents sell her to a silk factory to provide for the family. One day her father of few words takes her on a trip & just leaves her at a silk factory with no explanation. Pei couldn’t understand why she was taken away from her home & her mother, father & two sisters and wonders what she did wrong. Over the years Pei learns the value of ...more
This book should have been a nonfiction book presenting the silk factories. The plot and characters seemed to exist only to illustrate an aspect of Chinese history or factory conditions or options in 1920-30s China for women.

I am intrigued by the hair dressing ceremony wherein women could choose to become a member of the sisterhood of silk workers, an alternative to arranged marriages. A parallel ceremony to marriage; the choice as permanent. Like secular nuns.

Even if the factories allowed wom
Gail Tsukiyama writes beautifully, and I thought this was a sweet book, but by the end of it I felt disappointed in the way the characters were portrayed. Everyone was too nice! Even those who were difficult, like the cook Moi, were presented so fondly that their challenging personalities seemed like minor foibles.

Most difficult to believe was Pei herself. She was not docile as a child, and yet her restless, curious nature seemed to disappear once she went to work at the silk factory. Its also
Fascinating. This is from the back cover of the book:

...rural China in 1926, where a group of women forge a sisterhood amidst the reeling machines that reverberate and clamor in a vast silk factory from dawn until dusk. Leading the first strike the village has ever seen, the young women use the strength of their amibition, dreams, and friendship to achieve the freedom they could never have hoped for on their own.

Loved the characters. The silk factory workers (women) live together in various hou
Tsukiyama's Women of the Silk is set in China circa 1926, but has a timeless quality to it. At face value it is about women who work in a silk factory. In fact, it is about separation and attachment, the roles of women in society and resilience. Beautifully written, I did not want it to end.
A good read and a fascinating insight into Chinese history, in the 1920s. I'd like to think the successful strike by the silk workers is really true as in general they had so little influence. A moving book. Thanks for the recommendation sue rattray!
This book was okay until the end. I hated the ending - how much misery can one person endure? Reading this book made me think about how wonderful it is to live in modern American where I, as a woman, have as much independence and autonomy as I choose. I think if I had lived during that time in China I would have chosen to remain unmarried as Pei did. I would never want to be in a loveless marriage, being exploited and treated poorly by a husband who would never talk to me and share his feelings ...more
This is the story of Pei, a woman of the silk, who was taken to work in the silk factories as a child of eight. This simple fact is the basis for the novel and a way of life for many girls and women in China in the 1920's and 1930s. They initially helped to support their poor families and ultimately gained a degree of freedom for themselves.

I enjoyed this novel as an introduction to a way of life completely foreign to me. I really don't know anything much of China during that time prior to WWII.
Linda Hart
I read this book several years ago and remember it with fondness. It is a bittersweet story with well developed charcaters, and an engaging, not too predictable, plot. For centuries the women of China (along with females in many cultures other than ours) have lived with excruciating poverty compounded by a strong tradition of disregard by their men. How a young woman, copes with these hardships is told here in a compelling story of sisterhood, finding inner strength, and standing up for closely ...more
Galen Johnson
Pei is taken by her father to work in a silk factory with other young girls and women when her family falls on hard times. Pei befriends a diverse group of females, and works hard in the factory. Despite the bad working conditions and long hours, the girls earn enough money to grant them some independence not available to most women.

Well-written novel about a historical period not often fictionalized. Great cultural lessons intertwined with well-developed characters. Highly recommended, at leas
Beatrice Waterhouse
This is in general a good story, with an interesting setting, fantastic research, and a lovely, smooth syntax. However, it also suffers from some pitfalls, namely: a) clunky, obvious foreshadowing visible miles away (at least what is being foreshadowed comes along within a few pages, rather than being drawn along- this book is very episodic, which isn't really a flaw in my eyes); b) tell-not-show character development, which fits the narration scheme and isn't jarring in-text, but in retrospect ...more
Women of the Silk by Gail Tsukiyama is a novel about women who worked in a silk factory in rural southern China from the 1920’s to the beginnings of the Japanese invasion in the mid-1930’s.

I picked up this book because I am very interested in the way silk was processed in China in pre-industrial times. When the lead character, Pei, first goes to the silk factory, the book is very good about explaining the silk work, but then it just kind of stops. Most readers probably won’t mind this since I’m
A harsh look at working women in early 20th century China specifically those laboring in a silk factory.

Pei, the main protagonist, a young girl emerging from immense hardship. Entering as a silk factory worker, she finds her world vastly improved by fostering deep relationships with females from similar circumstances. The factory women form a unbreakable sisterhood enriching their lives through a supportive nurturing network. Electing to remain unmarried, these woman possess a self confidence an
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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 The Street of a Thousand Blossoms The Language of Threads A Hundred Flowers Night of Many Dreams

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