Women of the Silk
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Women of the Silk

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  9,702 ratings  ·  735 reviews
China, 1926. Pei wordt door haar autoritaire vader naar een zijdefabriek gestuurd, nadat een waarzegger heeft voorspeld dat zij ongetrouwd zal blijven, en dus ongeschikt. In de fabriek ontmoet Pei meer vrouwen die alleen zijn gebleven, de meesten omdat ze weigerden een verplicht huwelijk aan te gaan. Pei wordt opgenomen in de hechte gemeenschap van deze vrouwen. Met elkaar...more
Paperback, 270 pages
Published 2005 by Atlas (first published October 1st 1991)
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 Women of the Silk, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Women of the Silk

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

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Jordan
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
Darcy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Clara
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
Jeannette
Rating: 3-1/2 stars

I'm not sure how to rate this one. There are many wonderfully written passages in this book. They show the beauty, the love, the sadness and sorrow that come into everyone's life. For Pei and the women in China, this is especially so, as their lives are so hard, because they are women, and because they are poor. I was surprised to learn that there were societies of women in 1920s China who lived independently owing to the money they earned in the silk factories. They chose to...more
Nicki


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...more
Sally
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
Cortney
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
Lex
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!
Marie
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.
Diane
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...more
Kelly
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...more
Val
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...more
S
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
Jessica
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...more
Shelley
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
Ramona
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
Claire
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...more
Meredith
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...more
Sue
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...more
Kelsey
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
Sue
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....more
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...more
Nikki
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Beth
The wonderfully moving story of Pei and Lin. The women live within a sisterhood of women who all work together in the silk factory. Most of the women come to live in the house and work in the factory as young children because their families cannot afford to keep them. Those who chose to stay on through adulthood, join the sisterhood. The story of Lin & Pei is poignant. The characters are well written and the story is beautifully told!
☮Karen
I enjoyed the description of the silk factory and how these little girls were torn from their families to work in the factories to provide financial support. But the personalities were difficult to empathize with as they were all so remote and shut off emotionally from each other. I am still confused about the relationships between these young girls who grew into womanhood together, choosing never to marry.
Dorry
This book was a quick read that kept me interested. It was not however a gripping and moving saga. I want to feel something when I read. I want to connect to the characters and understand the relationships in the story. Part of the distance I felt is the Asian culture, however; some disconnect was the lack if detail within the relationships. Lin and Pei's closeness came out of nowhere. I was confused at the connection and had to lean into the relationship without a real understanding of their cl...more
Stephanie
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.
Laurie Hanan
The story is told in simple language, at a gentle pace. The point of view changes frequently. While some horrific events take place, the strength, courage, and quiet dignity of the main characters dominates. We learn of the strong and brave sisterhood of women who live together and work in the silk factory. Some have come by their own choice, but many were left there at a young age to work and support their families. As harsh as this is, we get the feeling that their fate is not necessarily an u...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Concubine's Daughter
  • Peach Blossom Pavillion
  • Empress
  • Spring Moon: A Novel of China
  • The Painter From Shanghai
  • Pavilion of Women
  • All the Flowers in Shanghai
  • Wild Ginger
  • A Cup of Light
  • The Teahouse Fire
  • The Moon Pearl (Bluestreak)
  • February Flowers
  • Bound Feet & Western Dress
  • The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel
  • The Calligrapher's Daughter
  • The Ginger Tree
  • The Secrets of Jin-shei (Jin-Shei, #1)
  • Miss Chopsticks
28719
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

Share This Book

“Nothing ever stands still, and neither should you.” 5 likes
“Don’t ever think that just because you do things differently, you’re wrong.” 4 likes
More quotes…