Purchased from Audible as an audiobook, narrator Julia Franklin does a decent turn, managing to get voices that are different enough, especially for t...more Purchased from Audible as an audiobook, narrator Julia Franklin does a decent turn, managing to get voices that are different enough, especially for the men, as well as pronouncing (correctly I hope) the Japanese words in the text.
This book is broken up into several parts: the teenage Hannah, brought up in a privileged city atmosphere, head strong but understanding little of the world of men. Attracted by the apparently romantic sea faring men, she is horrified by her parents arranging her betrothal to a man who fondles her during a town party.
The second portion of the book tells of when she escapes on a boat, spending the next 18 months travelling to the newly opened Japan. Having thought the boat she sneaked onto was captained by her brother, she is shocked to find that the captain is some one else, who is less than the romantic ideal she thought he was. She keeps herself hidden in the bowels of the ship, along with the Japanese cook, learning more about Japanese culture and how to speak Japanese.
Trapped in a marriage she didnt want (to protect her reputation), she finds herself in Japan, kidnapped by a man who is fascinated by her thick red hair whose Sensei had predicted her arrival.
The next part of the book is dedicated to their developing relationship as she learns more about Japanese culture and the strength behind a Shogun and his daiymo. Their relationship is threatened on several occasions, particularly by Taro's sister-in-law, who wishes to be Taro's next wife, to the point where she is prepared to kill Hannah to get what she wants.
Finally, the disconnect between the western and eastern worlds comes to a head and both Hannah and Taro need to decide what's important to them.
Ultimately this is a standard romance story, in the standard format. There is the usual "threat to split the couple up" near the end, but the couple are finally reunited with all impediments neatly dealt with to make it easier for the couple to remain together. Once Hannah is on the ship, she spares no thought for her family (apart from her brother who she thinks is on the ship). Her parents and her siblings are never given a second thought, with no concerns as to what her disappearance could mean to the people back in England.There is an assumption that the reader knows the basics about Japanese culture so, for example, tatami mats covering the floors are not explained. The narrative switches between intense detail during a particular scene and "meanwhile, 3 weeks later.....this happens".
Reading back the above implies that I didnt like the book. Whilst I didnt hate it, I didnt adore it either. It was a nice book to listen to, it was a setting different to normal historical romances, and the author didnt treat the reader like a complete idiot. There's some adult situations, but described appropriately, so only the most sensitive will be offended. (less)
Received in ebook format from Netgalley, this is a first person narrative of the 13year old Xiang Xiang who ends up as a prostitute in China in the ea...moreReceived in ebook format from Netgalley, this is a first person narrative of the 13year old Xiang Xiang who ends up as a prostitute in China in the early part of the 20th century. She learns not only the ways of the bedroom, but also the cultural arts, and rarely forgets her mother or her dead father.
Over the next few decades she tells of her life as she develops some self awareness as to what she does and doesn't want, and tries to find some peace with her life and her choices.
There is little reference to events in the outside world and the large political events affecting either China and it's only in the last portion of her life that the outside world breaks in. There is *some* reference to the physical work Xiang Xiang does as a prostitute, but much of it is couched in the euphemisms of the time and place so little to offend (but there is some more base swear words).
As she moves to each new section of her life Xiang Xiang both gains and loses something (or someone) - something she seems to do with relative ease. She spends several years in a lesbian relationship, and drops that as soon as she comes across a Taoist monk who she then falls madly in love with and spends a year with only to drop him in favour of the lesbian. Few years later, they part and Xiang Xiang's lover is almost never thought of again - her death at the hands of their mutual enemy is written in the epilogue, almost as an afterthought.
So in summary: the book is technically competent, with an interesting story that could have had some more depth around the characters and plot - there is a taste and acceptance for longer books regarding China, by Chinese authors (Wild Swans anyone?) so would have lost little to nothing in additional items being added.
The day I left Japan, I stared at my reflection in the mirror in the airport ladies' room and made the following vows: I would never tell another lie,...moreThe day I left Japan, I stared at my reflection in the mirror in the airport ladies' room and made the following vows: I would never tell another lie, especially to myself. I would never let desire overwhelm common sense. I would never sleep with a man who was married to someone else, mime fellatio with a complete stranger on a stage, or take money for sex again. In fact, to cover all bases, I would never have sex again with anyone, man or woman, for the rest of my life.
Received as part of Feb 2012's LTER batch as ebook.
Lydia, a blond, blue eyed American is in Japan looking to seek out the exotic whilst feeling disconnected from her family. She enjoys sex, has her own little fantasies, but as she gets older and more dissatisfied at how her marriage and her life are going, she finds herself searching out more and more satisfaction in sex (but rarely finding it).
The story is good, with Japan being a "different" enough setting to keep the reader entertained and not skipping ahead. The erotica scenes are......not for the faint hearted or the prudish, but are more on the "safe" side of things.(less)
I havent read Christine's previous novel, but have read several of the books on Christine's previous publisher's "label" (Transita) and enjoy the dire...moreI havent read Christine's previous novel, but have read several of the books on Christine's previous publisher's "label" (Transita) and enjoy the directions of ordinary people (who arent necessarily special in the looks, money or age department), and most of whom are flawed in someway.
Ann, despite being middle aged - still is the child of a glamorous, attractive woman, and has grown up with the baggage of never feeling pretty, talented or loved enough. She visits her mother in Hong Kong after hearing that the man Vivianne has deserted Ann for has, in turn, deserted Vivianne.[return][return]A week's stay in a foreign and exotic location makes her reassess her relationship not only with her mother, but herself and her grandmother.
I did enjoy the descriptions of the island and it reminded me of many fiction books that I have read set in China and Japan
It did take me a while to get some of the relationships sorted out - It was ages before I relised that Felicity was Ann's step-sister rather than new step-mother, but dot know if that was me being particularly stupid.(less)
Put this down last week, half read, to complete another book. Reached a passage that makes me think I've read this book before (although I have no rec...morePut this down last week, half read, to complete another book. Reached a passage that makes me think I've read this book before (although I have no recent details if I have). Suspect that I'm not going to pick this book up again to finish.[return][return]What I read was reasonable, although not completely engaging. A 7 year old boy, married to a much older woman, witnessess the death of his father, and in order to protect him in plain sight, his wife places him in the service of the man who killed his father. 9 years later, the warlord's daughter is to be married off to someone else, but Mouse is in love with her....(less)
This is a difficult book to read. None of the characters come off particularly well, as each of them (most of them women) tell their version of events...moreThis is a difficult book to read. None of the characters come off particularly well, as each of them (most of them women) tell their version of events leading up to, and the subsequent fall out of the murders of two schoolmates, who for various reasons have descended into prostitution.[return][return]Each of the women have their own problems, in being too beautiful, not beautiful enough, wanting something unachievable, having pressure put on them externally and internally to be *more*.[return][return]Found it difficult to get any sympathy for any of the characters (if I remember the previous book "Out" correctly, I think they were a little more sympathetic even if they weren't much nicer).(less)
A novel set in China in the 1920s about Siu Sing, the daughter of a Chinese mother and the foreign devil ship's captain who rescued her from death. Ra...moreA novel set in China in the 1920s about Siu Sing, the daughter of a Chinese mother and the foreign devil ship's captain who rescued her from death. Raised until the age of twelve by an elderly Taoist sage who is master of the White Crane and trained as one of his last disciples, she is sold into slavery after he's assassinated. After spending her teenage years in an opium den, she begins a quest to find Ben Deverill, the father she never knew, and to reclaim her birthright.
This book is split across two women: Li-Xia, who works her way from being the unwanted daughter of a wealthy man's concubine to the wife of one of the richest Eurasian men in Hong Kong, follwoed by her daughter - the "Red Lotus" of the title.
Whilst parts of it were good, there was little tension or much to fear from the apparent enemies of women, despite Ben's apparent wealth and the hatred of mixed marriages etc all around them. Even the tension between Red Lotus and her "enemy" could have been a little stronger. One of her more minor enemies seems easily brought off with money and some implied blackmail, and is never heard from again - all secondary characters seem to easily disappear and be forgotten throughout the book.
The above could give the impression this is a bad book - it's not, just not a great book.(less)