Kathleen Kelly's Reviews > The Concubine Saga

The Concubine Saga by Lloyd Lofthouse
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Jun 18, 12

Read from May 29 to June 07, 2012

The Concubine Saga is a fictional of account of a real person, Robert Hart. He was was a British consular official in China, who served as the second Inspector General of China's Imperial Maritime Custom Service from 1863 to 1911. He was born in Ireland but left in disgrace as a young man. He evidently was a very sexual young man and was unable to control his desires, according to his religious upbringing he went to China after he was awarded the position of student interpreter in the China consular service. Not long after he arrived he met the woman, Ayaou who was to become his concubine and with whom he would have three children. According to this story he also had Ayaou's sister come into the household as he didn't want her to be sold to cruel people and he had feelings for her also even though he was in love with Ayaou. Because of Robert's ability to handle delicate negotiations with the Chinese, he was able to move up the ranks to become a respectable and trusted man in China. In his personal life he was still at odds with his religion and his lifestyle as having concubines was not accepted in polite society.

To further his understanding of the Chinese he learned "how to think like a Chinese" and learn all that he could learn about his adopted country and their customs and languages. This all helped him and because of his diplomatic skills he was able to work effectively with the Chinese and be the go between, if you will, for China and China's trading deals with other countries such as America, France and Germany. He was also very instrumental in establishing custom houses, railroads and various other programs to aid the Chinese. Because of his communication skills, patience, good judgement and good relations with the Chinese he earned himself the nickname of "our Hart".

When I started reading this story I was a little intimidated as, one: I had never heard of Sir Robert Hart and two: I knew very little about China. The author's depiction of Hart's life in China and with his relationships with Ayaou and her sister was told in descriptive detail and such beauty of the Chinese culture that I did not want it the story to end. A very well written and impeccably researched story that I highly recommend to the historical fiction fan. A lot of history but not written like a history book. This book does have a lot of sexual content in it but told in a very tasteful way. I really enjoyed this book.
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05/29/2012 page 25
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