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Language of Threads

4.09  ·  Rating Details ·  5,914 Ratings  ·  339 Reviews
Readers of Women of the Silk never forgot the moving, powerful story of Pei, brought to work in the silk house as a girl, grown into a quiet but determined young woman whose life is subject to cruel twists of fate, including the loss of her closest friend, Lin. Now we finally learn what happened to Pei, as she leaves the silk house for Hong Kong in the 1930s, arriving with ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published July 1st 2008 by St. Martin's Press (first published September 8th 1999)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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I liked Women of the Silk much more than The Language of Threads . Maybe it was because I missed the primary relationship and the struggle against a clearly identified power to this book which was more about Pei's struggle to gain independence in a new place while simultaneously caring for an orphan and then survive the onset of war. I was left wanting more depth in how the characters thought about the impending and then current conflict with the Japanese invaders. There was the beginning of som ...more
Rachel Brand
May 15, 2009 Rachel Brand rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rachel by: Karen Andersen Miller
Read in Germany, July 2009.

* enjoyed a lot more than the prequel - the plot was more fluid, the characters (especially Pei) were more realistic and better developed, and the writing was also better (although there was a typo on the back cover!). All signs that Tsukiyama's writing had improved immensley.
* I liked the ending of this book more - it seemed to be rounded up better than in the first book.
* still a lot of sadness - Mrs F. and the orphan girl. I understood that it was realistic
The Language of Threads is the sequel to Women of the Silk, which should be read first. The story refers to events that happened in the first book, so I plan to go back and read it. Gail Tsukiyama writes well, providing insight into the customs in China and the lives of Chinese women.

This is the story of a young Chinese girl, Pei, who leaves China and flees to Hong Kong after the invasion of Japan during the Second World War. She worked in a silk factory in a small Chinese town (the first story)
Deanna Drai Turner
I don't grant 5 stars very often. This book duo deserves it. The first book is "Women of the Silk" the second "The Language of Threads." As I first engaged in this adventure, I stepped off with trepidation. I wondered if it would be yet another story of the horrors of how the Chinese treat their women. Foot binding. Discarding female babies. Slave trade. Dog worth. Etc...I have read many of these stories in my day, and just wasn't sure my heart was in a place to endure more of that just now. And ...more
Jun 05, 2008 Marie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in women's friendships, or Asian cultures
Last year I got the opportunity to hear Tsukiyama speak at a banquet for the Willamette Writers in Portland. She is half Japanese-American and half Chinese-American, and most of her books center around Japan or China. After hearing her speak, I read her first novel, "Women of the Silk" (about women who worked in the silk factories in China) and loved it. "The Language of Threads" picks up where "Women of the Silk" left off.

I can see that Tsukiyama's writing has only improved in the interval betw
May 07, 2014 Randee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: asian-books
I very much enjoyed this story of Pei and Ji Shen, two Chinese girls whose family's gave them up to work at a silk factory. When the Japanese invaded, Pei and Ji Shen barely escaped to Hong Kong with their lives, leaving behind all that they knew. When I read stories like this, my first gut reaction is to feel blessed that I have not had to experience such hardship winning a random lottery not of my making to have been born in the United States of Swedish/Polish heritage. My second most prominen ...more
May 17, 2008 Mady rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the sequel to "Women of the Silk", where we keep following Pei's life. However, didn't find this as brilliant as the first one. Somehow the characters didn't get so clear in my mind and they made me feel as if they were broadly the same from the first book, but undercover of a different name! Regardless, found this very engaging and could keep on reading about Pei!

Probably for the benefit of readers who have not read the "Women of the Silk" some of its plot is explained in this book, but
Aug 28, 2014 Melinda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Now we finally learn what happened to Pei, as she leaves the silk house for Hong Kong in the 1930s, arriving with a young orphan, Ji Shen, in her care. Her first job, in the home of a wealthy family, ends in disgrace, but soon Pei and Ji Shen find a new life in the home of Mrs. Finch, a British ex-patriate who welcomes them as the daughters she never had. Their idyllic life is interrupted, however, by war, and the Japanese occupation.

Pei, a character and a women you will not forget. Her life is
M Strawberry Reviews
My only complaint is that this book wasn't published in one volume with 'Women of the Silk', because both books didn't really feel like separate tales. Rather, they felt more like two halves of one tale, especially because of the way 'Women of the Silk' ended and this one begun. Still, it was a lovely and poignant tale as Pei has to deal with the tumult of the Japanese invading China (this book starts in the late 1930's) and shows that even no matter how tenacious and determined some people are ...more
I think I would have like this better if my expectations had not been so high, but after reading Tsukiyama's "Samurai's Garden," her "Language of Threads" was a disappointment. It is set in pre War II and then during WW II Hong Kong but there is not much subtlety here - it is Japanese Devils versus the Chinese. The protagonist is a silk worker and I craved more information about this interesting dying profession - there were hints about the silk sisterhood and the vows of the silk sisterhood but ...more
Jenny Yates
This novel, set during the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong, is a continuation of the story of the silk worker Pei, begun in “Women of the Silk”. In this one, she moves to Hong Kong with her young ward, Ji Shen, and makes a life for herself first as a domestic and then as a seamstress. The novel does a good job of depicting the discomfort, insecurity and fear of wartime for a civilian population.

The novel is written with straightforward simplicity, eschewing any novelistic tricks. It feels real e
This is a sequel to Women of the Silk, which I haven't read. However, there is plenty of reminiscence of the past to have a good idea of the previous book. It takes place in China and Hong in the 1930s and 1940s, during the Japanese invasion/occupation. So, life is extremely difficult. What makes it liveable is the women's commitment to and caring for each other: Women who, as children were made leave their families to work in the silk factories, who have known hard work and deprivation and have ...more
Mar 14, 2014 Kelly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful! That's all I can say, the follow up to Women of The Silk is just as well written , engaging and at times emotional is WOTS. The only blip was no knowing what became of Chen Long my favourite 'sister' who was so feisty and courageous leading the women through protesting against the poor working conditions of the silk workers. I'm truely a fan of historical fiction and this author, I will be on a hunt for the rest of her books and any similar.

The start, middle and end were all enjoyabl
Gail Tsukiyama is perhaps my favourite writer. She writes with gentleness yet strength and power of women making a life in the shitty circumstances they (we) find ourselves in. Her books are set in China, Hong Kong, Japan during times of conflict. And she writes of finding the beauty despite the struggle. Thank you for sharing your talent and your heart.
P. 135. "It's a strange thing Caroline (Mrs. Finch). It wasn't until I simply gave up everything that I suddenly felt free."
Alix  [Semi-Hiatus]
There was a lot of beautiful language in this book but I felt the whole thing with Ms. Finch versus the Chens could be construed as like mild White Savior syndrome or something and a few things felt rushed due to this skipping of years but otherwise an enjoyable read.
This was a very lovely story told in a lovely gentle manner.
Mar 18, 2013 Ram rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a great author. She weaves a great tale, drawing you in bit by bit.
Jun 13, 2017 Donna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The final story of Pei is moving, and heartfelt. Upon the Japanese government moving in, Pei has escaped to Hong Kong. There she meets up with other silk workers to find new jobs. As she settles into life in the big city, there are still many obstacles to overcome. Can she overcome them to fulfil her fate? A great ending to a beautiful story.
Jun 01, 2017 Rona rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is the second of Tsukiyama's books that I've read. I've decided I don't like Tsukiyama much. I find her prose plodding and dull and the characters superficial and unrealistic. I know Tsukiyama has a huge fan club, so I guess I'm in the minority. I wanted so much to like her, but I don't.
Dana C.
Some passages were soulfully written, but I found the characters underdeveloped.
Mar 15, 2017 Catherine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was slow getting the characters straight. It would have helped if I had read the Women of Silk first. The sorrow, strength, and true bonding that the Sisterhood gave, help give Pei courage to keep going. Reading this I grieved for all the hardships the Chinese suffered durning war time.
Now, some people say that the first installment was better...
Even though I gave this a higher rating, it wasn't because it was necessarily better than the first, it was because I just loved how everything ended. I was rating the overall journey that these 2 books took me on.
Gail Tsukiyama is truly a Gem among rocks. She wove this book together into a beautiful quilt just like Pei did in the story!!! I enjoyed every last bit of this one.
I love that Tsukiyama took us further than needed. We got
Feb 14, 2017 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoy reading historical fiction especially about subjects and places that are not all that familiar.

The story is about Pei, a young Chinese woman who escapes from China to Hong Kong with a young orphan Ji Shen whom she takes with her. Pei is helped through the community of women who had worked in the silk thread industry as she had in a small village in China. She first works as a domestic in a rich Chinese household and then for an English woman Caroline Finch, a widow who emotionally adopt

The Language of Threads – Tsukiyama
4 stars

This sequel to Women of the Silk continues the story of Pei and the orphaned Ji Shen as they flee to Hong Kong in the wake of the Japanese invasion. The story progresses through the Japanese occupation, the Communist take-over and the post war recovery of Hong Kong. As the central character, Pei struggles to support herself and Ji Shen while continuing to grieve for her partner, Lin. One or two other characters from the first story continue in this one.
Bree Fabig
If the first book I had picked up from Tsukiyama happened to be LoT or WotS, I probably wouldn't have returned to her writing. Not because it's bad (far from it), but it seemed like a second draft most of the time. Luckily, I read The Samurai's Garden and The Street of a Thousand Blossoms far beforehand, and I am her devout fan. To anyone who has not read Tsukiyama but plans to, don't be deterred by Language of Threads or by Women of the Silk; she is a fluid and dazzling writer.
This novel, as we
Jun 12, 2010 Caroline rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely loved it. It's a sequel to [The Women of Silk]. The story continues with Pei and Ji Shen fleeing China to Hong Kong because of the Japanese occupation. There they start to build a new life for themselves. Pei's strength and resilience is put to the test many times over as she learns how to fend for herself and then look after Ji Shen in this new world, taking on new work as a laundress, a domestic helper and later on a seamstress. As the Japanese bomb Hong Kong, round up the British i ...more
Jan 25, 2009 Marcy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a sequel to Women of the Silk, although you do not need to read Women of the Silk in order to understand The Language of Threads. Pei flees with Ji Shen, an orphan from the silk factory, to Hong Kong to run away from the Japanese. (They took over the small village in mainland China where Pei had worked for years in the silk factory. Hong Kong was safe for the time being). Pei finds work as "domestic" help in a rich home in Hong Kong and continues to support Ji Shen while Ji Shen goes to ...more
Aug 02, 2016 Janet rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical-novel
I liked The Language of Threads well enough that I plan to read the prequel, Women of Silk, which several reviewers recommended more than this second book.

Book summary from Goodreads reviewer, Bobbi:
his is the story of a young Chinese girl, Pei, who leaves China and flees to Hong Kong after the invasion of Japan during the Second World War. She worked in a silk factory in a small Chinese town (the first story) where women bonded together in a close knit sisterhood and life was, in general, bette
Apr 15, 2012 Karyl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookstore-finds, 2012
This novel is a sequel to Women of the Silk, which I haven't read. It opens in the late 1930s, after Pei and Ji Shen have escaped their silk-working village in China and made their way to Hong Kong. The book is full of Pei's reminisces about her earlier life, so one gets a sense of the previous book, but I felt that there were too many instances that referred to Women of the Silk and made me feel like I should have read it first. I prefer a sequel that can stand more on its own. The book gives a ...more
Lilian Garcia
Jul 23, 2012 Lilian Garcia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Our bookclub reads a wide variety of interesting books, some good, some not so good. The Language of Threads presented us with an opportunity to read about the experiences of both the Chinese and the British in Hong Kong in WW2, as well as to share a little with the select group of Sisters of the Silk.

How disappointed were we?

The Language of Threads reads like a hastily thrown together novel, and we found ourselves wondering if it were the poor sister to a richer "Women of Silk". The lead charac
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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).
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