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The Red Thread

(The Straits Quartet #1)

3.41  ·  Rating details ·  212 ratings  ·  40 reviews
Set against the backdrop of 1830s Singapore where piracy, crime, triads, and tigers are commonplace, this historical romance follows the struggle of two lovers Zhen, a Chinese coolie and triad member, and Charlotte, an 18-year-old Scots woman and sister of Singapores Head of Police. Two cultures bound together by the invisible threads of fate yet separated by cultural dive ...more
Paperback, 328 pages
Published April 7th 2015 by Monsoon Books (first published January 1st 2007)
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Showing 1-30
3.41  · 
Rating details
 ·  212 ratings  ·  40 reviews

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Sep 16, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-group
I had never heard of this book before it came up at book club, so knew nothing about it. I downloaded it to my kindle and started straight away, without reading any 'blurb'. I love to start a book in this way, as I like not having any preconceived ideas about whether I'm going to enjoy it or not.
With this in mind, I found myself confused about the date in which it was set, so I had to read up on this before I could continue.
Set in the Singapore of the 1830s, the story follows Charlotte and Zhen
Mar 27, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book. The history of Singapore is somewhat fascinating to me and I really enjoyed how the author fitted real life characters of Singapore's past into the body of the story.

I liked the two main characters very much but I was a little frustrated with Charlotte that she kept a secret from Zhen. I live in a different era therefore I do not realise the struggles people went through due to racial differences. I felt the author handled these with great respect and simplicity - laying it o
I always love to read the reviews before I choose a book so I knew this one was a slow starter. I thought I could handle slow, I was wrong.
I really wanted to love this book, there are some many great things about it. This is meticulously detailed historical fiction, the setting, old Singapore, and its inhabitants are skillfully evoked and described in great detail, the reader gets a real sense of being there, of discovering this exotic world through the eyes of Charlotte and Zhen. Singapore is a
This book should be getting 1 star because it is barely passable as chick lit let alone literature - but for the fact that despite ALL its flaws (super clunky prose, horrible racial stereotypes, badly incorporated poetry) I actually enjoyed it. The sex scenes were actually not too badly done and the characters were endearing on a slightly more than superficial level. And it's set in a city and time that I really enjoy. Still, I'll have no problem avoiding the rest of the series.
Nov 06, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting-enough read. I forced myself through it because of the historical and cultural perspectives of Singapore. If I didn't live in Singapore, I am not sure that I would have liked it as much.
Beth (bibliobeth)
Sep 18, 2017 rated it liked it
A huge thank you to the lovely Faye for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and to Monsoon Books for sending me a free copy of The Red Thread, the first novel in a quartet in exchange for an honest review. One of my favourite things as a reader is to learn about different countries and cultures and I'm especially interested in places within Asia like China and Singapore whose customs are explored in the most intricate detail in this novel. I have to admit, when I first started the book, I ...more
Sep 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
I’m not afraid to say that it took me a little time to get into this story but a novel filled with so much culture, history and diversity cannot be rushed. From the vivid descriptions of the scenes set on the pages I was transported to a Singapore filled with heady scents and could visualise the changing colourful and sometimes dark landscape. From the first moment that Zhen laid eyes on Charlotte the intensity of the gaze was bewitching and as a reader you were willing for them to make an acqua ...more
Michelle Johnson
A book set in a country that fascinates you

HOLY COW. The minute I finished this book I sat around hoping she had written another book to go with it. I could NOT let it end. I needed more.

I'm not really into romance novels. Let me just start with that. So if you've been hesitant to read this because it's a romance, dont let that stop you. I mean, I guess it is. But it's a romance in the way Outlander is.

It's filled to the BRIM with history. I loved reading more about Singapore history.

What I d
May 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Not something i would usually read but for my interest in Colonial Singapore ( like you do). Jam packed with information and research that I am not expert enough to comment on the veracity thereof but it certainly creates a sense of the time, place and melting pot of cultures that was colonial Singapore (as distinct from ye olden Temasek or the modern shiny 50 yr old Singapore). The "romantic" or steamy parts are sufficiently steamy (blush). This book is part one of four. Undecided whether to re ...more
Dec 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Sigh. It's my fault for not noticing that this is a romance novel, which I don't read. While I somewhat enjoyed the portrayal of life in old Singapore, the primary romance between a Chinese coolie and a Scottish immigrant beggared belief. Ms. Farnham's purple prose also got in the way. "Floating, she felt liquified...." Please.
Dec 21, 2017 rated it liked it
I appreciated this novel for the insights into life in Singapore during the 19th century, for the culturally and socially diverse cast of characters, and of course the relationship between Charlotte and Zhen. I didn't love the story though, as it moved far too slow for my liking, and the surely well-researched details tended at times to drown the main plot.
JA Houghton
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wanted to read something different and picked up in Singapore airport. I enjoy historic novels and this introduces some of the history of Singapore, by a Scottish woman who falls in love with a Chinese coolie with a strong ambition. Can't wait to read the next in the series.
Marta Magdalena
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An exciting love story ser in the tropical Singapore.
Teresa Tyreman
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Can not wait to read the next instalment of this descriptive historic novel.
Wan Peter
Feb 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: dawn-farnham
Pick it up at Bali Airport. Just love it. A novel of Singapore. The next book can’t wait to read.
Sam Still Reading
Feb 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Singaporean history
Recommended to Sam Still Reading by: bought in Singapore
When I’m away from home, I like to browse bookshops. I like to look at the different covers of books released overseas and I also like to discover new, local authors that I wouldn’t be exposed to at home. The Red Thread is the result of one of these browsings at Kinokuniya Ngee Ann City, Singapore. (If this bookstore was a man, I’d marry it. It is fantastic, crammed with all sorts of subjects and section on local authors. But I digress).

Dawn Farnham was born in England but grew up locally in Per
Kathy Chung
Jun 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
as more or less in the synopsis -> ang moh lady come Singapore. China man come Singapore. love/lust at first sight. End up being together . hey...wait..seems the fella got earmarked by rich fella to be his son-in-law Man marries the rich man's daughter. An unexpected first night . Ang Moh lady broken heart and sail away with a secret...

that was the short version. but the full version is much better. can see that the author had done tonnes of research on Singapore, Malacca and Batavia. Her des
Hwee Goh
If you are into Singapore and you are into historical fiction, this is a book for you. It's the first I have read ever of a love story set in Singapore in the 1830s. This means Coleman of Coleman Street, Balestier and Whampoa are alive in this fictitious story quite beautifully imagined by Farnham. It attempts to be lyrical as well, often dipping into poetry, if you like that sort of thing. Mind you, it gets rather steamy in the last quarter of the book. It took me a while to get through this, i ...more
Jan 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading about historical Singapore was as much of a draw for me as the desire to find out what happens to the characters. The images of early SG were intriguing knowing how the city is laid out now and also how the different ethnic groups all interact. Some of the racy scenes were unexpected. I now know there are other books by Farnham that continue the story and will likely try to find them. For those interested in Singapore history, here is a romantic tale of unlikely, and quite steamy, love s ...more
Andrea InCoorparoo
Jul 09, 2015 rated it liked it
Singapore in the 1830's was a wild town with an amazing mix of traditional cultures. The time and place are described thoroughly in this book. For example, there is a whole chapter about Charlotte's walk from the English colonial area through to Chinatown. If you live in Singapore, I imagine this history would be fascinating. Also, I have recently been on holiday in Singapore, staying in Chinatown, and I like to read fiction set in places I have visited - so I enjoyed it too.
Zareth Lim
Dawn Farnham's portrayal of Singapore during its time as a newly established trading post is vivid and realistic. Her descriptions of the different races residing and trading in Singapore, their customs, cuisine and lifestyles are painstakingly detailed and breathtaking. As such, Farnham's novel weaves a rich tapestry of life in 1830s Singapore.
Jun 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a story of rough and tumble 1860s Singapore. Scottish Charlotte and Chinese Zhen connect and sparks fly. The setting and history of the story are based on a historical reality that makes this an interesting read. Underlying Charlotte and Zhen's separate educations about their new home is a hot, unheard-of romance. This is an interesting way to learn about Singapore's history.
Feb 10, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not one for romance novels which is essentially what this book is (and it gets worse in volume 2). But if you live or have lived in Singapore it's worth a read just for the history of early SG. Quite fascinating from that aspect.
Gill Schell
When you hear the author talk about this book, you'll want to rush out and buy it. I was really disappointed though. The plot was really weak and large paragraphs sounded as though they had been lifted out of a museum guide book(the author is a guide in one of the museums in Singapore).
Kathy Reid
Although i didnt love this book, it was historically interesting, had a nice romantic understory and two sequels. Perfect holiday reading where you want to be entertained but not have to think too much...
Aug 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not a book I couldn't put down but historically interesting and relevant given I currently reside in Singapore. Interesting enough for me to want to read the sequel of the trilogy and apparently there is a fourth book out this year 2013.
Jun 27, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written, and very interesting culturally, but somehow it didn't grab me. I found myself liking many of the secondary characters more than the main ones. Warning: there are a lot of very detailed and explicit sexual scenes.
Deanna Shaw
The history about Singapore was good. I like all the details the author gave about the places and people. A little too much detail about the sex. I could have done without some of that detail. Overall, a good read.
Jun 22, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just finished reading this book, and it did captivate me somewhat, though I found myself skim reading at times, I felt there was a bit too much filler chucked in to give the book more substance.
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