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Wege Der Seidenfrauen
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Wege Der Seidenfrauen

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  13,652 Ratings  ·  985 Reviews
Sent by her family to work in a silk factory just prior to World War II, young Pei grows to womanhood, working fifteen-hour days and sending her pay to the family who abandoned her.

In "Women of the Silk" Gail Tsukiyama takes her readers back to rural China in 1926, where a group of women forge a sisterhood amidst the reeling machines that reverberate and clamor in a vast s
Published (first published October 1st 1991)
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Jul 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Beth
Recommended to Jordan by: Liz
If you are just starting with Gail Tsukiyama then I recommend starting with this book. Gail Tsukiyama is Chinese/Japanese American and her books take place mostly in China/Hong Kong around the second World War. This book, "Women of the Silk", tells the story of a young girl who lives in a world where daughters are married off and those that aren't go to work in the newly thriving silk factories. Contrary to the silk work being along the lines of forced labor it is actually an opportunity for the ...more
Sep 06, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
A fortune teller made the prediction that eight-year-old Pei would never marry, convincing her silent father that the young Chinese girl would only be a drain on the impoverished family's resources. She was sent to work in a silk factory with her wages returning to her family each month. Motherly Auntie Yee ran a home for the young girls working in the silk factory, and a sisterhood developed among the lonely girls. In the early 20th Century marriage often included long hours farming, beatings f ...more
Gisela Hafezparast
Apr 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
China has always fascinated me, it's culture, history and the sheer tenacity of it's people, especially those which have started from nothing. There is so much to learn and this book is yet another part of China which I had no idea about. Obviously everyone knows that China produces the best silk in the world, to which I am quite partial too when possible. But I hadn't realised that before the Revolution this was a female industry (apart, alas as usual from the owners) and the reasons why and ho ...more
Aug 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gail Tsukiyama's "Women of the Silk" is an interesting look into the lives of women who worked in the silk factories in China, in the early 20th century. Come to find out, this grueling labor actually gave these women a kind of freedom from traditional marriage roles, as they lived independently, off their own earnings. Tsukiyama follows a young girl, Pei, through to her years as a young adult, having been left without explanation at the silk factory by her father when she was little. Tsukiyama' ...more
This book had such potential, yet failed to deliver. It was a good book, yet it could have been better. The characters did not progress. I would have loved to get to know them better, to understand their struggles and to feel what they felt. Maybe it’s the culture and they must remain guarded in fiction also. The synopsis of the book stated that it was about a strike at a silk factory in rural China in the 1920’s and 1930’s, but it was about so much more than that. This was the story of the youn ...more
Apr 03, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009

This was a good story. I enjoyed the details of Chinese village life and the silk work. Yet, I couldn't help feeling that the characters lacked emotional resonance. They were somewhat flat, and at times both the feeling and the dialogue came across as forced and contrived. Tsukiyama made an effort to point out the bond of the "sisterhood" among the silk workers, but I would rather have felt that connection myself.

That said, it was not an altogether unengaging read. This is Tsukiyama's first nov
Dawn (& Ron)
Dec 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who love learning about different cultures and times
Approaching this review has been difficult for me due to my confusion over this book. There was so much I enjoyed and learned from this book that this easily could have been a top read if only certain incidents didn't take me away from the book. This was my first buddy read and it brought a wonderful level of enjoyment to the read, thanks Jeannette! I loved the moving, poignant and empowering story of Pei and her sister silk workers, their simplicity and strength can't help but move you. Overall ...more
Apr 06, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quite obviously a first novel- not a great work of literature but entertaining. Everyone seems to go on about how empowering this book is to women, but I found that element of the novel limited in scope, since the only women who are successful completely reject men and those who don't are destroyed by their heterosexual realtionships. I like boys, damnit!
Jason Prodoehl
This book really had me inside the world of rural China in the 1920s and 30s. It follows the life of a girl in a tiny village, and her life going to a small town to become a silk worker. I don't want to ruin any of it for you, so that's all I'll say. I found it very intimate and compelling. It was a real page turner. I was surprised to read that this was Gail Tsukiyama's first novel. Excellent work.

This book was FINE. I gave it a 50% (2.5/5) rating because I liked about half of this book.

This story tells the tale of a young girl named Pei who lived in a time in China when young women were either married off or sent to work in factories. As a child Pei was predicted to be 'loved by many' and it couldn't be said for certain whether or not she'd settle down and actually marry. So, she was sent away to work in a factory just before WWII began.

One of the things I liked so much about t
Jun 15, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, group-reads
This book should have been a nonfiction book presenting the silk factories. The plot and characters seemed to exist only to illustrate an aspect of Chinese history or factory conditions or options in 1920-30s China for women.

I am intrigued by the hair dressing ceremony wherein women could choose to become a member of the sisterhood of silk workers, an alternative to arranged marriages. A parallel ceremony to marriage; the choice as permanent. Like secular nuns.

Even if the factories allowed wom
Jan 24, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Women of the Silk, Gail Tsukiyama's first novel, is well worth its strong reputation. We had the great pleasure of hosting the author at the Hayward Public Library in February 2009. As a member of the audience commented, readers can count on learning a lot from Tsukiyama's novels. In Women of the Silk, we follow the principal character, Pei, who is essentially abandoned by her family when she is a young girl, sent off to the nearest silk-making factory to earn a living that will help her family ...more
Aug 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just love this woman's writing! Everything she says is like a poem and the beauty is so evident in the small parts like when she describes the preparation of food or the city sights and smells as the character goes on a walk through town. Her stories capture emotions and you feel like you have a co-pilot seat in experiencing the character's transformation. The character development is such that you actually miss these people you're reading about once the book is over. I would love to read more ...more
After recently hearing Tsukiyama speak in person, I decided to go back and read her novels in order. This is an excellent first novel, about the lives of women in China working in the silk trade. I loved it! Excellent story of women's friendship.
Jan 19, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Women of the Silk, was the debut novel written by Gail Tsukiyama, and first published in 1991. Ms. Tsukiyama is a new to me author.

Pei is one of the several Chinese daughters born to a poverty stricken fish farm family, dominated the father. She is the outgoing and curious child, and according to the fortune teller that her father takes her to, she is the “non marrying” type. When another girl is born to the family (who dies soon after), Pei's father decides her fate. He arranges to sell her to
Sep 09, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japan, 2009
Got it off my grandmother's back porch when she was getting rid of a bunch of books, but was sad to find it not really worth reading. Very surface-level story, too many cheap tricks and gimmicks, too many questions left unanswered.
It could have been a great novel! in the hands of another author. Tsukiyama's knowledge of the history of silk factories and the Japan-China conflict of the 1930s is clear - and the historical information woven into the story was interesting. But having a novel range o
Nov 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved every word of this book! Historical fiction at its best, the last book that touched me in the way Women of The Silk did while reading was A Thousand Splendid Suns. This is the first book I've read by the author and must say her writing style and ability to transport you back in time/in to the characters is good.

The message in this book is sisterhood, girl power, fighting for rights and survival of the fitest in times of austerity. All set in a time and culture when women were married off
One of my students recommended this to me as one of her favorites, and I enjoyed it as well. It reminded me a little of one of my summer reads "The Blood of Flowers" which I liked even more than this. Reading about the silk factories of China in the 1920s-30s was very interesting, and I like novels that take me to new places. An easy and entertaining read.
Linda Lpp
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was caught up in the story from the beginning. The lives of rural impoverished Chinese were sparse and lacking in physical and interpersonal relationships. Emotions were not expressed, and the males drove the family unit's lives and very subsistence.
Early in the story when introduced to Pei, I was drawn to how her young life dramatically changed.
Throughout the book she dealt with the odds that challenged her. She seemed to crave more emotional acknowledgement from those she knew, but did man
May 20, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 17, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really like Chinese and Japanese writers - they have a very smooth way of writing and their stories are always of very kind and very strong characters. I always imagine im sitting in a garden, filled with cherry blossoms, while reading.
The book was quite interesting, fast-paced (mostly), but the ending was something I didn't enjoy. It felt like she ended it this way just so she could make it extremely dramatic for one last time and it was a bit too much.
Other than that, probably a good choic
This one was a reread for me but one I enjoyed. I love this author’s work and the pacing and detail here about life in this period of China for the silkworkers detailed here was engaging. Looking forward to rereading the second book in this series.
May 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3-4 stars. ...more
Mar 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wat een topper weer. Tsukiyama is zo goed!
In "de zijdewerksters" volgen we Mei, als ze als jong meisje door haar vader wordt weggestuurd om als zijdewerkster geld te gaan verdienen voor haar familie. Het wordt een vrij feministisch verhaal, tegen de achtergrond van een vooroorlogs China, met veel aandacht voor liefde en vriendschap. Prachtig geschreven ook alweer.
A simple tale set in China just before WW2. The book follows the life of Pei, a country girl who is sent to work in a silk factory to help support her family. The tale is simple but haunting too... and quite emotional towards the end. I learned a lot about the culture and traditions of the time and it gave me a lot of food for thought.
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
Women of the Silk is a perfectly enjoyable little book, although it suffers from some flaws which may simply be the result of its being Tsukiyama’s first novel.

The book follows its protagonist, Pei, from 1919 until 1938. Her impoverished family gives her to a silk factory at age 8, where she grows up and forms close bonds with other girls and women. The blurb makes it sound as if the book revolves around the women challenging conditions in the factory, which isn’t the case (they do, but this tak
Jun 11, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed reading Ms. Tsukiyama's other book "The Samurai's Garden" so much that I went to my local library seeking other books from this same author and saw this book. It was a very quick read at under 200 pgs but I did not like it as much as "The Samurai's Garden" which I found to be all engrossing. I now see that she wrote "Women of the Silk" in 1993 and "The Samurai's Garden" in 1996 and so I am going to seek out more of her contemporary novels since I think with time, most writers get bette ...more
This is in general a good story, with an interesting setting, fantastic research, and a lovely, smooth syntax. However, it also suffers from some pitfalls, namely: a) clunky, obvious foreshadowing visible miles away (at least what is being foreshadowed comes along within a few pages, rather than being drawn along- this book is very episodic, which isn't really a flaw in my eyes); b) tell-not-show character development, which fits the narration scheme and isn't jarring in-text, but in retrospect ...more
Jan 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Touching story set during the 1930’s when Japan was invading China about a girl who is born in extreme poverty in the hillside on a fish farm, and her parents sell her to a silk factory to provide for the family. One day her father of few words takes her on a trip & just leaves her at a silk factory with no explanation. Pei couldn’t understand why she was taken away from her home & her mother, father & two sisters and wonders what she did wrong. Over the years Pei learns the value of ...more
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Busy as a Bee Books: The Women of the Silk - Gail Tsukiyama 2 19 Jul 20, 2013 01:49PM  
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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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“Don’t ever think that just because you do things differently, you’re wrong.” 14 likes
“Nothing ever stands still, and neither should you.” 8 likes
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