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Lost in Translation

3.63  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,645 Ratings  ·  213 Reviews
A novel of searing intelligence and startling originality, Lost in Translation heralds the debut of a unique new voice on the literary landscape.Nicole Mones creates an unforgettable story of love and desire, of family ties and human conflict, and of one woman's struggle to lose herself in a foreign land--only to discover her home, her heart, herself.

At dawn in Beijing, Al
Paperback, 384 pages
Published May 11th 1999 by Delta (first published January 1st 1988)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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May 24, 2010 Ruth rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
366 Pages. Donated 2010 May.

Nicole Mones doesn't waste any time getting to the heart of the matter in her first novel, Lost in Translation. Within the first 10 pages we discover that protagonist Alice Mannegan, an interpreter based in Beijing, has a yen for sex with Chinese men. By the time we reach page 20, we've learned that Alice is in full flight from her father, a racist U.S. congressman, and about to start working for Adam Spencer, an American archeologist on the hunt for the missing bones
Apr 11, 2012 Belinda rated it liked it
This is NM's first book but I read it last. So even though I think it is good I felt the sense of an author finding a formula and sticking with it.
Mones books are interesting, well researched, compelling to read, and they always teach you something - Peking Man, Chinese porcelain, food, but there is that repetition of elements that dominate the books. Obviously the geographical setting - China - is one of them, there's the strong, smart, female character, aged 35+, and there is the romance.
Carinya Kappler
Dec 22, 2012 Carinya Kappler rated it really liked it
Perhaps I have benefited by not yet having seen the well publicised but little understood movie version of “Lost in Translation”. I was able to tackle the novel with no preconceived notions of the delicacy required to preserve the cultural bridge between westerners and Chinese, and indeed between Chinese people themselves in their daily dealings with each other.
Whether the novel accurately portrays the cultural mysteries or not is not an essential ingredient for the reader’s enjoyment of this be
Feb 05, 2008 Bekah rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Liza Miller
May 19, 2015 Liza Miller rated it liked it
Let's start with a seemingly obvious but wildly overlooked detail: Nicole Mones' "Lost in Translation" is not Sofia Coppola's "Lost in Translation." I mean, sure, they're both about American women floating adrift in Asian countries who have asexual relationships with American men that teach them about the culture in which they've been absorbed and also about themselves. But OTHER THAN THAT, they're totally different stories. (Full disclosure: I didn't realize how similar they were when when I st ...more
Aug 09, 2011 MC rated it liked it
An elaborate, yet low-key adventure about history, archaeology and finding a place to truly belong. Although the characters had a lot of potential, I never was able to connect with any of them - I had a hard time liking Alice. Her Daddy issues and borderline fetishism with Chinese culture wasn't endearing or understandable, it was annoying. Why Lin? What was special about him? Or her other, near-fiance? It's never quite clear. And why in the world are we, the reader, treated to a very late roman ...more
Alice Mannegan is a young American woman working as an interpreter in modern day China. When she is hired by Dr. Adam Spencer to help him search for the missing “Peking Man”, she embarks on a journey of intrigue, love and an enticing mystery.

The Asian cover of the book may make some think Nicole Mones’ novel is related to the movie of the same name, but let me assure you, it’s not. From the first chapter, I was absolutely drawn into this book. Mones presents a credible mystery – a clue that coul
Lost in Translation by Nicole Mones is set in modern-day China. Alice Mannegan is an American woman living on her own in China, working as a freelance translator.

Her father Horace Mannegan is a US Congressman. When she was a small child, he gave a pro-segregation speech that incited a race riot. She is ashamed of his racism and refuses to live in America. However she readily accepts his money to support her lifestyle. Alice holds another grudge against her father: when she fell in love with a C
Apr 14, 2016 Gerry rated it really liked it
Very slow starting, but ultimately very satisfying in both its historical information -- a period of Chinese history I lived through but knew nothing of, as well as the archaeological connection with a figure I’d known only as a theologian/philospher (Theihard de Chardin) -- and in the affective impact of its central love story between two individuals who thought they could never find true love.
Mar 28, 2009 Karmen rated it it was amazing
Retrieved this book from my storage locker; hidden within a medium size box of other treasures. Last read was over 4 years ago.

The story concerns a Chinese translator, Alice Mannegan, working in Guangzhou, China. She ran away as far as was possible from being the poster child for "white America" by her father, a U.S. Congressman. The story details the struggle she has not only with the language but the nuances built in over the centuries to it. The words don't necessarily correspond to their mea
Jul 27, 2014 Merty rated it it was amazing
I would really love the chance to travel to China. This novel takes place there and it's a bit mysterious, the book has a way of drawing me in! I love it and I want to read Nicole Mones other 2 books, one on my kindle and one I just ordered in Paperback, didn't like the print on kindle for that one, for some reason.

Oh, this book was exotic and erotic. I loved the story about Alice and her desire to stay in China or move back to the U.S. Her job as interpreter to an Archeaologist was so interesti
May 24, 2011 Dee rated it it was amazing
This book really surprised me! I purchased it from a library discard pile. What luck! For this book I would have happily paid more than the dollar that I did. It's an agonizingly lovely book that uses the dischord between an American woman and her given culture, and family, to craft a tale that puts the alienation anybody can feel into a deeper perspective. Unlike just anybody, the protagonist loses herself in the classic language and ancient traditions of her chosen home: in China. Reading it, ...more
Dec 09, 2014 Katherine rated it did not like it
This was a very strange book, very disconnected. There were many pages, too many, to get to know the characters, but we never did. Very drawn out, no conclusion, and couldn't wait for it to be over.
Jan 29, 2016 Barbara rated it liked it
Rather slow. Good enough, but wouldn't read again. A novel of searing intelligence and startling originality, Lost in Translation heralds the debut of a unique new voice on the literary landscape. Nicole Mones creates an unforgettable story of love and desire, of family ties and human conflict, and of one woman's struggle to lose herself in a foreign land--only to discover her home, her heart, herself. At dawn in Beijing, Alice Mannegan pedals a bicycle through the deserted streets. An American ...more
Dec 18, 2014 Jenny rated it liked it
Please do not be put off by the title of this book; Nicole Mones's novel has no relation whatsoever to the plotless modern movie. Picked up from the used-book section of Barnes & Noble, Lost in Translation tells the story of a disenchanted American, daughter to a racist congressman, who fled to China to immerse herself in this foreign world.

It opens with the protagonist, Alice Mannegan, serially persuing Chinese men to sleep with. As a translater estranged from her American upbringing, Alice
Mary Beth
Jan 18, 2015 Mary Beth rated it really liked it
What a wonderful book! I'm glad I took the time to search it out. It is nothing like the movie, it is better!

The book centers around an American woman named Alice who lives and works in China in order to escape her racist congressman father. She calls him Horace, not Dad, so what does that tell you about their relationship? Alice is looking to connect, to find a different family, so she can be a different version of herself. That is until she takes a job as interpretor for an archaeologist who
Oct 01, 2014 Eve rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2011
This is my second Mones book, and I've decided that she's a keeper! Her two-fold view of cultural China is enlightening. This book is in many ways similar to The Last Chinese Chef, especially with both viewpoints: that of a foreigner and a native. Alice's interal demons and her eventual resolution of these issues closely paralleled my situation at this time. Imagine that!? So yes, so glad I read this and would highly recommend it.
Apr 21, 2014 Dorothy rated it really liked it
I wonder how many people are like me, and picked up this book because they thought it was the origin of the movie?

Whatever, I'm glad I did pick it up (even though it has nothing to do with the movie at all), because I thoroughly enjoyed it. I liked the heroine, I liked the insight into the Chinese people, language and country, and I enjoyed the plot.

I will certainly look out for other books by this author.
Jan 08, 2016 Fay rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book – a combination love story and Chinese cultural documentary and archaeology lesson. Alice Mannegan feels very removed from American society and her congressman father and has ploughed her life into Chinese culture as a very capable translator. Middle aged archaeologist Adam Spencer ‘employs’ her for an attempt to find the lost Peking Man with new information from war time priest Pierre Teilhard’s and lady friends Lucille’s diaries.

Review - The authenticity of Mones's b
Feb 06, 2008 Velvetink rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, read-2008
Lost in Translation is a novel about love--between a nation and its past, between a man and a memory, between a father and a daughter.
Gaye Coughlan
Feb 10, 2015 Gaye Coughlan rated it it was amazing
The author tapped into what most try to do - trying to escape our past and make a new future. The main character Alice has come to China as she feels it is far away from her father's influence. She immerses herself in the country and it's culture in the hopes of healing something broken in herself. Although she embraces the Chinese culture, her western morals and thinking clash with some of the people she meets and also causes conflict within herself.
The description of China and its people was v
Jun 23, 2014 Coralie rated it really liked it
This was another book that was hard to get into. I was very put off by the beginning and the behavior of the main character that I almost put it down after the first chapter, but it was highly recommended so I stayed with it. I was glad I did, because it was a good book after Alice, the main character, calmed down a little. This book was about Chinese archeology and the hunt for the bones of "Peking Man". It was very exciting and I found myself really liking all of the characters, although I won ...more
Suanne Laqueur
Sep 24, 2014 Suanne Laqueur rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-nook-news
The key to the novel's success is Mones's in-depth knowledge of China's culture, history, and politics. The question of cultural identity is at the core of her tale, and she skillfully weaves various aspects of Chinese life—from ancestor worship to the Cultural Revolution—into the personal relationships of her characters. By novel's end, readers have discovered a great deal about archeology, China, and most especially about the unmapped territories of memory, desire, and identity. Very entertain ...more
May 02, 2015 Nicki rated it it was ok
I was almost halfway through this book when I decided it wasn't worth the effort to continue. My reading list is long, my time valuable, and I found this book too formulaic and the character of Alice too self-centered to give further attention.
I love reading historical novels and books infused with Asian culture; however, this book felt like it was written by someone who would fetishize the Chinese culture and people. The character Alice is described as woman in her late-thirties who is still r
John Marsh
Jan 30, 2016 John Marsh rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 07, 2013 A B rated it it was ok
This book could be the cure for insomnia.

I am usually a very fast reader but in this case, reading was almost a chore. You'd think a book about a search for an anthropology treasure set against Chinese culture and politics, along with an American woman with severe daddy issues who wishes she were Chinese (not to mention a hot Chinese guy with a tragic backstory) would be difficult to put down. Yet it is. It's like the writer divided by zero.

Instead, there are too many plot elements working again
Mel P
Mar 02, 2012 Mel P rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It took me awhile to get into this book. It was very slow building but once it got me, it got me. There was something very poetic and sensuous in the way the author described things. The tension between Alice and Lin. The desperation and sadness of Dr. Spenser. Alice was such a complex character yearning to be accepted but at the same time not accepting herself. She had obviously gone to China to, what she thought, to find herself but what she was really doing was running away from herself and h ...more
Jan 31, 2010 Karen rated it liked it
I loved the way this book brought the Chinese language alive. The use of exact(ish I'm sure) translations of phrases within a conversation was skillfully done and wasn't annoying or distracting, as it can often be. The author gave a feel for the formality and caution that pervades all aspects of life in China, including its language.

The book centers on an American interpreter who has been hired by an American archaeologist to aid him in his search for the Peking Man lost bones. Peking Man was a
Mar 12, 2012 Brianna rated it it was amazing
Shelves: modern
I read Nicole's book "The Last Chinese Chef" a few years ago and loved it so much that I read it a second time. When I discovered "Lost in Translation" and that it was written by Nicole, I immediately wanted to find the book and read it. I also was under the assumption that the movie by Sofia Coppola was based off of this book. Well I finally read it and after the first few chapters (you'd think it would have happened in the first few sentences) realized the book and movie are nothing alike. Bas ...more
I thought the book was a good read from the beginning.
One of the things I most enjoyed was the author, Nicole Mones', ability to put me there, in the main character Alice Mannegan's footsteps - although I've not experienced many of the things Alice does.
Alice Mannegan is an American interpreter working in Beijing when she takes a job interpreting for an American archaelogist searching for Peking Man.
The story is fasciniating, not only because of the drama and tension, but also because you begin
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“But in the end he didn't love her enough to fight for her.” 5 likes
“If there was one thing she knew by then, by age twenty-two, it was that she had to get far away and stay away. Here in his world she was trapped in an intolerable corner, which seemed to grow tighter and tighter each year. And now no place in America felt right.” 4 likes
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