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The Flowers Of War

3.59  ·  Rating Details  ·  506 Ratings  ·  88 Reviews
The powerful Chinese novel about love and war on which Zhang Yimou (Raise the Red Lantern; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) has based his latest film starring Christian Bale to be released in 2012.This moving short novel is based on true events that took place during the Nanjing Massacre in 1937 when the Japanese invaded the Chinese city, slaughtering not only soldiers but ...more
Kindle Edition
Published (first published January 2007)
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Find the enhanced version of this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

I wish I could say I came across this title of my own accord, but I must confess, it was Ni Ni's performance in the film adaptation that prompted me to track down a copy Geling Yan's The Flowers of War.

For those whose history is a little rusty, the Nanking (Nanjing) Massacre took place in December 1937. Estimates vary depending on the source, but the International Military Tribunal of the Far East cl
Diane S ☔
Apr 06, 2012 Diane S ☔ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A more personal yet no less powerful take on the Nanking invasion by the Chinese. School girls, prostitutes, injured Chinese soldiers all come under the protection of an American priest in a church that is supposed to be off limits because of it's American status. The book takes place almost solely within this church and visits by the priest to what is supposed to be the safety zone. The way people change when confronted with adversity, among untold violence, are avidly portrayed in this novel. ...more
Tara Chevrestt
Imagine a church, the attic full of Catholic schoolgirls, the cellar full of whores, and toss a few men in between them to feed them and maintain order...and you get chaos!

What I liked: Tell of the rape of Nanking in a better fashion than Nanjin Requiem did, IMO. Nanjin was far too brutal, like a listing of brutality after brutality... This story, though it rarely left the church walls, told what was going on inside and out. Inside, you got a bunch of ungrateful whores that have bullied their wa
Jul 12, 2012 Chrissie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bio, china, hf, sample-ok, audible
On completion: No, this was not a total waste of time. This novel is based on real events. It is about what actually happened in December 1937 in an American church which housed Chinese soldiers, prostitutes and 16 naive schoolgirls while the Japanese invaded and massacred all and everyone in Nanjing. The events are gripping. I wanted to know what would happen in the end. Read this book for the plot, NOT for the writing style. Terrible writing. The author picks all the wrong words.

The audiobook
Mircalla64 (free Liu Xiaobo)
i tredici fiori della sfiga cinese materlineare

tratto da una storia realmente accaduta: tredici prostitute rifugiatesi in una missione religiosa a Nanchino durante l'invasione giapponese si sacrificano al posto delle ragazze del coro e vengono sequestrate dai giapponesi

Se non avessi letto milioni di libri di storia cinese e alcuni di questi sul sacco di Nanchino da parte dei giapponesi nel 1937, questo mi sembrerebbe esagerato, ma il fatto è che i giapponesi si sono macchiati di tali nefandezze
Christina Dudley
Jan 12, 2012 Christina Dudley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For starters, the plot summary on Goodreads actually describes the movie adaptation, for which some key changes were made. Meaning, there is no Christian Bale character. There are, however, Chinese courtesans taking shelter at an American Catholic church/school compound, where the resident priest and his deacon undertake to hide them.

The book is very short and moves quickly. I found the writing style strangely detached, but had no idea if this was because it was in translation. Great plot and se
Elizabeth B
I really enjoyed the start of this book. It began with a strong setting and interesting characters. Then it oddly turned with the addition of random snippets of the prostitutes’ history likely designed to make you closer to the characters. However, the way they are presented was a random listing of events/memories which jarred me from actually story and I found it difficult to return. It was a pointless addition really; padding that added nothing to the main plot or storyline. At around page, it ...more
Feb 26, 2012 DubaiReader rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: vine, 2012
A little disappointing.

This was a book that improved a bit as the story progressed - initially I couldn't relax with the dialogue or the points of view of the protaganists, which felt disjointed. I wondered if it was a translation problem, but the translator is very experienced in this field, so I concluded that it must be cultural.
As I relaxed into the style, I became more involved with the schoolgirls in their innocence, the brazen prostitutes and the injured soldiers, all thrown together unde
Nov 27, 2012 Lisse rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to read this book after watching the movie of the same name, starring Christian Bale. The movie was beautiful, breathtaking and heartbreaking - so completley well done. I believe this might be why I held such high expectations for the book itself. I so rarely think that a movie does a better job of telling a story than the book does, but in many ways in this case I do. I felt like most of what we got from the book was a once-over. Not so much detail or emotion, but more of just a storyl ...more
The Flowers of War is based on a true story; the 1937 Nanking Massacre, when invading Japanese Imperial Army forces killed an estimated 300,000 civilians (this is according to the Chinese. The Japanese maintain the killings were blown out of proportion to incite outrage.) There was also looting and mass rape.

The action in the book is set in a church, where a group of terrified schoolgirls are in hiding from the Japanese forces, unable to get to the 'Safety Zone' where civilians have been told t
The reason I read this novel was for the historical information about the horrific actions of the Japanese army when they overtook the Chinese city of Nanking in 1937. For the background history, I am able to give the book a three-star rating. However, the writing was uninspiring, to say the most. The author was unable to create the relationship to the characters for the reader that grips the heart and mind. The plot was rather clumsily laid out, and the enormity of this historical event was not ...more
Dec 15, 2013 Mirella rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Flowers of War is a novel set in 1937 which depicts the Nanking Massacre. In fear for their lives, a group of prostitutes flee the Japanese atrocities by climbing over the walls of convent and church where young school girls, some from elite families, are being educated. At the forefront is the priest, Father Engelmann who is entrusted with the school girls lives. What ensues is a desperate story of survival from hunger, murder, and oppression.

The Flowers of War is novel that exposes the fu
Cate (The Professional Fangirl)
First of all, 恭禧發財! 새해 복 많이 받으세요! Happy Lunar New Year!

Here I am with another book with a movie adaptation. I’ve seen the movie poster (same as the tie-in cover above) at my local AMC advertising a sort of festival featuring Chinese movies. Asian historical movies, especially by Zhang Yimou, hold a special place in my heart so I planned on watching it. But time was against me and I wasn’t able to catch it while it was playing. Not long after, I came across this book at a used bookstore. I decide
Isabel Brinck
For a book I didn't much like at the beginning, it really captivated me by the end. Initially, the style felt ridiculously simple and... What is the opposite of fluid? Rigid. I started enjoying it more as soon as the soldiers and their stories appeared, when we begin to find out more about what is going on outside the church walls. By the end, the narrative is tight, it's great, and there are only a few pages left! (it's only about 250 pages, nothing these days). It bascially gets progressively ...more
Aug 03, 2012 Victor rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
La historia, como tal, es muy buena pero el libro en general tiene muchos puntos en contra. Por ejemplo, los personajes me parecen muy pocos desarrollados lo que hace que, incluso cerca del final, la lectura no termine de calar; sucesos importantes están narrados de manera superficial y uno, casi, los pasa por alto; no sé si culpar a la traducción al español pero no me convencen ciertas palabras,frases y oraciones.

En pocas palabras, es un libro interesante si se quiere saber un poco de la masac
Victor Chu
Apr 13, 2016 Victor Chu rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A simpler plot than the movie by the same name

I thoroughly enjoyed the movie inspired by the book. A touch of Hollywood action and suspense with an ending which left things unsaid. The book cleverly written is without undue gore yet lets seep through the horror and realities of one of the biggest and largely unpunished war crimes of World War II committed by the army of so called more civilized Imperial Japan which went onto its pretended quest for an Asian sphere of co-prosperity. In face of di
Jun 24, 2015 Cudeyo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reconozco que los libros escritos/ambientados en la cultura china no son plato de mi devoción, y no suelo leerlos. Y no porque no me interese ese país, su historia, sino porque me cuesta mucho identificarme con los personajes, al ser la suya una cultura y unas costumbres muy distintas a las nuestras, y que chocan con mi forma de ser.

Con este libro hice una excepción, ya que cuenta un hecho real como fue la matanza de Nanjing durante la ocupación japonesa del país. Un hecho no muy conocido en e
Clara James
I first saw the film at our local theatre. I had no idea what to expect but I came out reeling. (Suffice to say that a bloke preaching outside got the sharp end of my tongue, where I suggested he see the film then tell me there's a God)

I then read the book, curious to know how the two differed.

It is a brutal account of the fall of Nanking (or historically called "The Rape of Nanking")and a priest's struggle to save two groups of young girls who are holed up in a convent.

It's not easy to read and
Sep 23, 2012 Jeimysan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am sure a lot is lost in translation the story is beautiful I need to learn other languages just to read the books in their OG form
Mar 28, 2012 Huy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war
Vẫn luôn thích những cuốn sách viết về chiến tranh, và đây cũng không phải là ngoại lệ.
Apr 18, 2014 Ann rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very short book set in China in 1937 as the Japanese take Nanking. An unlikely mix of people shelter in a Catholic Church: schoolgirls, prostitutes, priests, injured Chinese soldiers and the cook.

The plot is fairly simple and the characterization lacks depth, but the interest lies in the way the various groups associate with each other. Prejudice against the prostitutes is in evidence from all characters but their views gradually change, and they end up saving the day, as well as the innocenc
Mar 20, 2013 Debbie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel, the February pick for the War & Literature Read-Along, is set in 1937-38 Nanking, China during the beginning of the occupation by the Imperial Japanese army at the start of the second Sino-Japanese war. The period beginning mid-December 1937 has become known as “the Rape of Nanking“, for what seems to be very good reason.

The priest at a church ‘compound’ has had thrust upon him the care of twelve young students from an all-girls school, whose parents for various reasons, have not
Sushud82 Hudson
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 03, 2012 Élefill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: editorial
El padre Engelmann y el diacono Fabio Adoranto llevan la parroquia de Santa María Magdalena, y tienen a su cuidado a dieciséis niñas que se han quedado atrapadas, al igual que ellos, en Nanjing cuando la ciudad fue tomada.

Los días transcurren con las niñas escondidas mientras el padre Engelmann busca una salida segura de la ciudad para las niñas, pero la cosa se complica cuando una mañana se presentan de improvisto un grupo de prostitutas pidiendo asilo. Los dos curas son reacios por su precaria
Ispirato a una storia vera, è stato un successo di pubblico e di critica in patria e all’estero. Personalmente l’ho trovato un pò superficiale e abbastanza prevedibile ma analizziamo meglio il romanzo.
Innanzitutto il titolo vuole fare riferimento alle tredici giovani e pure ragazze che vivono nel collegio, le quali presto dovranno fare i conti con una realtà a cui non erano preparate; pronte a schernire, a deridere e a offendere persone diverse dal loro status, solo perché prostitute e non riten
Feb 19, 2013 Larry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the third novel I've read by this hugely imaginative author. It's full of the same sorts of quirks and diversions as her other works, but is also the most emotionally satisfying. The story of schoolgirls, prostitutes, soldiers and priests taking refuge in a church during the brutal rape of Nanjing in 1937, it offers a suspense-filled, insightful look into what feels like very believable bickering and competition among these mismatched cohabitators, united by fear and the will to survive. ...more
Feb 10, 2013 Yoake rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Utilizaré el nombre de Nanjing, en pinjin, porque es así como aparece en la novela, pero nosotros solemos referirnos a la ciudad como Nankín (igual que decimos Pekín y no Beijing). Así como Pekín significa “capital del norte”, Nanjing se traduce como “capital del sur”. Y efectivamente lo fue durante varios siglos. En el mes de diciembre de 1937 el ejército imperial japonés entró en Nanjing y arrasó con todo. Asesinó a sangre fría a millares de soldados chinos después de que se rindieran, cometi ...more
Mar 01, 2013 JoV rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book offers a very promising read. There is a war. There is a priest and his deacon Fabio, cook George Chen and helper Ah Gu, innocent school girls locked up in the church with a group of irreverent prostitutes and a brave soldier, Major Dai. The book was written in a very simple prose, so easy to read that the pages flew by ever so quickly. The characters in the book (as opposed to the ones in the movie) had more depth. I learnt about the plight of the top ranking prostitute named Zhao Yumo ...more
Ruth Ho
Oct 18, 2015 Ruth Ho rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved both the film and book. I don't usually appreciate historical novels but this took me away in all sense. This book devoured me in one go. I got sucked in from the start. So much emotions. The sacrifices these ladies made, made a mark in history. Years from now, I hope they will be remembered. Along with many others, lost in war. This book touched my heart in many ways, as it did to many others. I'm sure. If you haven't read this book and watched the film, please do so !!!
Aug 09, 2013 Fanny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found the plot moving, and appreciated the attempt at an epilogue. It is supposed to be a memoir of sorts, I get that in real life, people don't always get to find out what happens afterwards. It makes me wonder how much of it was based on facts other than it being about the Japanese invasion of Nanking. At times I felt pretty bored with the teenage drama that the school girls caused amongst themselves, but ultimately it added to the innocent factor.

Maybe the translation I bought was lacking i
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Bright Young Things: March 2012- The Flowers of War by Geling Yan 9 24 Jun 15, 2014 10:07AM  
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Geling Yan was born in Shanghai, People's Republic of China. She performed as a dancer at age 12. She served in the People's Liberation Army during the Cultural Revolution, in Tibet and later as a journalist in the Sino-Vietnamese War, achieving a rank equivalent to Lieutenant Colonel. Her first novel was published in 1985. She is the author of such novels as The Banquet Bug (published as The Unin ...more
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