The tai-pan, Ian Dunross, struggles to rescue Struan's from the precarious financial position left by his predecessor. To do this, he seeks partnership with an American millionaire, while trying to ward off his arch-rival Quillan Gornt, who seeks to destroy Struan's once and for all. Meanwhile, Chinese communists, Taiwanese nationalists, and Soviet spies illegally vie for influence in Hong Kong while the British government seeks to prevent this. And nobody, it seems, can get anything done without enlisting the aid of Hong Kong's criminal underworld. Other obstacles include water shortages, landslides, bank runs and stock market crashes.
Nov. 1987 Dell jumbo mass market paperback, 21st printing. James Clavell.
James Clavell, born Charles Edmund Dumaresq Clavell was a British novelist, screenwriter, director and World War II veteran and POW. Clavell is best known for his epic Asian Saga series of novels and their televised adaptations, along with such films as The Great Escape, The Fly and To Sir, with Love.
I gorged my famished literary appetite on this one in the spring of 1982. My Mom had recently passed away, and I had been treated for my resultant depression with electromagnetic brain stimulation. It had worked miraculously.
I started to read voraciously. This first choice of books may sound strange to my GR friends, but that was just ME that year. It was a year marred by the market-slavery of Reaganomics, but back then I just didn’t care.
Cause I played Freddy Mercury to the rabid Me Generation that surrounded me on all quarters, for:
Any way the wind blows Doesn’t really matter - Nothing really matters To me.
And all I read on lunch hour in my unfriendly workplace Stress Farm was pure, unadulterated escapism that year - and it would take quite a while before I was once again ready for heavyweight reading.
So I wolfed this one down - all 1400 dense pages of it - at work, and in our high rise apartment, in about four days. I had new energy for reading, and the reason for that is simple…
After my Mom died, my doc gave me a long session of trans-cranial magnetic brain stimulation, to get me up and running from out of my deep blue funk. Wow, did it work - as my fellow Asperger’s sufferer John Elder Robison echoes in his great recent book on the subject, Switched On.
I started going like gangbusters.
Naturally, in short order I was promoted - twice.
But what to do in my idle time?
If you said read like a maniac, you know where I’m coming from.
And like I’ve said before, deep brain stimulation gives you raw energy at a primitive level. Suddenly, it’s a Mickey Mouse world again! Yikes.
You know what, though?
I’m kinda glad these side effects are finally wearing out - forty years later.
For most of that time I was antsy and dumbly naïve.
But Noble House was a treat for me that year.
Its vast, bustling mob of sheer striving Mad Men fit me to a T.
Is it good, though?
Probably not, but to a reborn spirit such as me -
With the new, improved mind of my ten-year-old self once again inside of me -
This is the fourth novel of the "Asian Saga" by James Clavell.
TV MINISERIES V. NOVEL: DAWN OF HONG KONG
I loved the TV miniseries adaptation of Noble House, starring Pierce Brosnan, Deborah Raffin, John Rhys-Davies and Ben Masters. In fact, I can say that it's my favorite TV miniseries. I have it on DVD and crossing fingers that they'd release it on bluray anytime soon.
So, it was logical that I'd want to read the original novel...
...boy! I didn't think that it was so thick!
And a huge bummer for me, taking in account the TV miniseries adaptation, it was that the main characters of Ian Dunross and Casey Tcholok don't have a romance, besides the age difference between literary character, Dunross instead of being a widower, he is happily married and even having children.
Also, there are A LOT of sub-plots that after a while become quite tricky of following.
However, it's still a pretty good written work, so I don't see any reason to give it less stars than the maximum possible.
A VERY LONG WEEK
It's 1963 and it's quite amusing that such thick book and so much plots and sub-plots, and all that fits in just one week, in the time of the novel, that since it's carefully indicated on each chapter, you can't deny that it was just one week...
...but a very looooong one!
Full of banking raids, international espionage involving China, Russia and Great Britain, underworld machinations, stock market frenzy, rainstorms, landslides, boats on fire, racing horses,...
...and a very important half coin.
All in just one long week.
TAI-PAN IS THE WORD
Ian Dunross Struan, Tai-Pan of Struan's, Noble House of whole Hong Kong.
Never gets old, never gets tired of mentioning.
Smart, resourceful and a gentleman.
Tai-Pan is a Chinese term for "supreme leader", so you can say that each CEO of each company based on Hong Kong can be referred as "Tai-Pan"....
BUT there is only ONE true Tai-Pan in Hong Kong and is whoever is in command of Struan's, the Noble House, the most prestigious trade company in the city.
And Ian Dunross is the current Tai-Pan (tenth in the book, twelfth in the TV miniseries) and since he needed to make Struan's public on the market, now he's dealing with a risk of losing control of the company.
Especially since Struan's, like any successful company, it has an archenemy company which is Rothwell-Gornt, managed by Quillan Gornt, and not only that, since the bitter enmity runs deep back in the past of Ian's and Quillan's families since the days of Tai-Pan novel.
And as if there wasn't enough business struggle set on the battleground...
...Par-Con, an American company comes in the middle, with CEO Lincoln Bartlett (huge fan of Sun Tzu's Art of War) and his vice-president Casey Tcholok (cunning woman who knows how to use all her personal resources to get what she wants).
Par-Con is supposedly arranging a business deal to save the Noble House of its cash shortness, but Bartlett and Tcholok are doing business too with Rothwell-Gornt, behind Struan's back, but...
...hardly anything is a secret in Hong Kong, and they're trying to play in an ancient town with its own kind of rules to make business...
...and where everybody wants to be THE Tai-Pan.
A HALF COIN FOR YOUR THOUGHTS
Struan's is a very old company, founded in the 1800s, and it wasn't easy to do, so it was needed to ask for favors to make possible the company which eventually would become the Noble House.
Those favors "turned" into four coins, divided in halves, where one half of each of the four coins were kept under the watch of the Tai-Pan in excercise of Struan's, with a unbreakable promise that when any of the other half-coins would be presented, the handler of the half-coin can ask for...
Two half-coins were already presented, one is missing, but...
...one was too near of Struan's, supposedly in safe hands, but...
...things in Hong Kong tend to change of hands too fast, and now the current owner knows well the power that the half-coin encloses!
As an author of historical novels, I understand the difficulties of creating a complex story and making sure the reader can follow it through its twists and turns. I therefore admire the incredible skill Clavell uses to plot this 1200 page story. He is a master. I have perhaps an hour more reading to finish.
Finished ... a nice ending and a setup for a sequel which I don't think Clavell ever wrote.
In many ways, this is my favorite Clavell novel. I'm kind of a big sucker for it.
It's a huge, vastly sweeping epic contained entirely within a single week in Hong Kong. It's a blockbuster of a novel in every sense, bringing equal amounts of entertainment and intellectual provocation.
There's something else going on in this novel which gives it added joy for those who have devoured the rest of the Asian saga -- in Noble House, Clavell begins to tie together the characters from all his other novels. The story focuses on the decendants of the characters in Tai-Pan, while decendants of the characters of Shogun also make appearances. And Peter Marlowe, who is Clavell's stand in for himself from King Rat, runs throughout the novel as a fairly important subplot, as an author who has recently achieved literary success with a novel about Changi, and is now researching a novel about Hong Kong (a delightful piece of hyper-fiction, which makes the reader all the more aware that this fictionalized world is based on real people -- the Struans of this world being based on the real life Jardines).
Ding-dong the witch is dead!. 6 months and 1400 pages later, I have finally finished this massive door stopper of a novel, and the best I can say about it is that its better than Gai-jin, the massive tome about Struan's in 1870s Japan which also took me most of a year to get through. I've been reading a book of Clavell's Asian Saga per year since college, a privileged position on my reading list accorded to him because I so enjoyed Shogun, Tai-pan and King Rat. The plot of this novel moves at a snail's pace for 1100 pages, and only picks up after that, at which point you've been reading for months and still have an equivalent of a reasonably sized novel to go. The plot meanders through about 20 sub-plots only half of which get resolved to any satisfaction, and some of which get resolved by deus ex machina in a highly unsatisfactory way. As always, the magic of Clavell is in bringing a time and place to life, as he brought to life 1500s Japan and 1840s Hong Kong. He does that here as well, but the problem is that 1960s Hong Kong is too familiar to be interesting. I will say there are interesting bits. The politics are fascinating, with the main character arguing emphatically that the US and Britain should help out the PRC on the grounds that they are thorns in the sides of the USSR which is the real threat. This to the point of selling materials to China to create nuclear weapons and helping the Thread of the Silkworm guy to defect in order to secure the Bank of China's aid during a monetary crisis. The gender politics are a fascinating mix of Randian ideas of self-sufficiency and a kind of parochial British love of the nuclear family. The action is also fascinating, since all of it takes place in scenes of tense negotiation in board rooms and pool halls and race tracks, rather than in any kind of violence. And I will say that I enjoyed the last 300 pages or so when the pace picked up and stuff started being tied together. But none of that makes up for a plot that is too long and convoluted, and which takes 1000 pages to get moving.
Another fantastic part of Clavell's Asian Saga, this continues the story of the Noble House, created by Dirk Struan in Tai-Pan & continued in Gai-Jin. It is set in Hong Kong & takes place over a week or so in 1963. There are a LOT of words for such a short time period. It's not as tight a story as Tai-Pan, but similar in many other respects.
Tai-Pan took place in 1841, the founding of Hong Kong. It follows the trials & tribulations of Dirk Struan. This book, Noble House, follows the green-eyed devil's true heir through similar tribulations in Hong Kong over a century later. The similarities & differences are fantastic. There are a lot of politics with crafty spies from China, America, England, & Russia. Cut throat business arrangements among these nations & Japan play on a wildly open stock market & banking system which tests Dunross' ability as The Tai-pan of the Noble House. He's just a business man, yet one of the most influential people on the island who carries a number of cares that would break a lesser man.
The blow by blow accounting of the week fits in an incredible amount of action. There's very little rest for anyone as the perfectly drawn characters maneuver for position. Motivations are wonderfully done. There are no angels, but many sympathetic characters, especially Dunross, a main character that is easy to get behind, but even he isn't perfect. The secondary characters are often as fully drawn & full of surprises.
The only complaint I had was that some of the Oriental characters were a bit two dimensional in some attitudes. Not all of them, but the mass were. Clavell does a great job in describing their poverty, drive, priorities, & abilities, though. This leads to some wonderfully comic moments - an old, abandoned amah calculating percentages on her take with the precision & speed of a calculator. It's also sad - people selling their children to feed the rest of the family.
These books are listed in published order here on GR now. That's NOT the chronological order, the order I'd highly suggest reading them in.
Shōgun - Japan 1600, 1100 pages, published 1975 Tai-Pan - Hong Kong 1841, 725 pages, pub 1966 Gai-Jin - Japan 1862-3, 1250 pages, pub 1993 King Rat - WWII Japanese prison camp holding Allied POWs, 350 pages, pub 1962 Noble House - Hong Kong 1963, 1375 pages, pub 1986 Whirlwind - Iran 1979, 1200 pages, pub 1986
If you're tight on time, my suggestion would be to read King Rat or Shōgun as stand alones. While all the books share some families, the time difference between these 2 minimizes that.
If you can find the time, Tai-Pan, Gai-Jin, & Noble House make a great trilogy. Skipping Gai-Jin wouldn't hurt. It wasn't yet published when I first read the series & I didn't miss it. Unlike the rest, it doesn't have a strong central character to root for, so it's rather jarring in that sense. Definitely read this book after Tai-Pan, though. If you like audio books & can listen to these 3 read by John Lee, you're in for a real treat. He might be the best reader I've ever listened to & I'm quite picky.
I haven't read the final book of the series, Whirlwind. I know it follows the Noble House, especially some plans that Dunross put into motion, but neither the setting nor the size made me want to read it. There is no audio version of it that I can find at this time or I'd give it a try, especially if it was read by John Lee.
The summer of 1990, I worked on a project in Phoenix, AZ. For 6 or 8 weeks, I flew every Sunday afternoon from Dallas to Phoenix and flew home Friday night. I was the only project team member in Phoenix, and my personality is not the kind to go out exploring on my own. So a summer of plane flights and evenings alone were the perfect time to read this book. I had a wonderful hotel room with a balcony facing northwest and almost every evening I would return to the hotel and sit out on the balcony and read this book until the sun went down. I loved the book and the escape it gate me from my loneliness that summer!!
The follow up to Tai-pan. Clavell famously visited Hong Kong and ingratiated himself with the high society of the island. He based his story around many real events, which he garnered from those very same socialites. The building that tumbled down the mountain side during inclement weather was owned by my old landlord, Oscar Wong. He used to tell me of the day james Clavell came to interview him about that night. An epic battle between the Jardine's, Swire and the new Chinese Hong's who started to rise in the early seventies. A great read, especially for those that live or have lived in Hong Kong.
Tohle vydání z roku 2001 jsem sháněl řadu let. Nejen že se nedalo nikde koupit (leda za vyděračské ceny) ale dokonce se nedalo ani půjčit v knihovně na doma. A chodit si po kouskách číst číst tisícistránkovou knížku do MZK není moc praktické. Clavella a jeho Asijskou ságu mám moc rád, a teď konečně můžu říct, že ji mám přečtenou celou. Paráda :) Vznešený dům je časově někde v šedesátých letech dvacátého století, tedy mezi Králem krysou a Smrští. Místo činu Hongkong, a v první řadě jsou tedy samozřejmě Struanové a jejich konkurenti, čínské hongy a nemalé množství špionů všeho druhu. Je to sám o sobě zajímavý thriller ze studené války a když to ještě Clavell podle svého zvyku pořádně okoření spoustou místních reálií, útržky katonské čínštiny a řadou vazeb na předchozí knížky, vznikne docela návyková záležitost. Líbilo se moc, v Asijské sáze řadím vedle Šóguna, Tchaj-pana a Krále krysu. Kvalita překladu je proti nečitelnému vydání z roku 1996 nesrovnatelně vyšší, a klobouk dolů před překladatelkou, že do toho šla po tom fiasku znovu.
This epic saga of a great British mercantile house in Hong Kong in the early 1960s is a 1400 page tome whose plot takes place in the space of one week. The action in the novel is intense. In Noble House, you get the feel of a staunchly capitalistic Hong Kong, a place that makes the setting of "The Jungle" look like a worker's paradise! Clavell's hero, like most of Clavell's heroes, is an alpha male and the absolute monarch of the family business which controls much of Hong Kong's commerce and power.
The problem that I had with Noble House was the tendency of Clavell to minimize his Chinese characters, to glorify the ruthless, and to treat women as tools of the alpha male. This is a common characteristic of Clavell novels, it just happens to be more pronounced in "Noble House". The novel also had, dare I say it, too much action in it. Within this one week period we read about espionage activities of the Soviets and the Communist Chinese, the machinations of Hong Kong, British and American corporations, horrible catastrophes such as bank failures, floods, earthquakes and riots, and plots involving organized crime. That's a pretty heavy week, even for Hong Kong tycoon family. It strains credibility, but then again this is a novel and not a history. Novels are meant to be compelling, and one must admit that Clavell knows how to hold the reader's attention.
If you are interested in the commercial empires of Hong Kong and the Far East, and you are willing to invest the weeks or more that it will take for you to get through this monster, the I would recommend "Noble House." However, let the casual reader beware - this is not for the less than dedicated!
A fascinating saga written with tremendous talent. Very interesting page turner and one of the best books I have ever read. Clavell includes a bank run, a bear raid, international intrigue, relationship/sexual tension, smuggling operations, natural disasters, multi-generational rivalry, blood oaths, espionogue and dramatic natural disasters in an extremely action packed period of little more than one week. A long book (as are all my favorites) but a very interesting read and one which I highly recommend!
Since I am reviewing the audible.com version I must also comment on the talent of one of the most talented readers on audible, John Lee. I have listened to many previous books by John Lee, and I have always enjoyed them. However, I have never listened to a book that allowed John to display his talent as well as this one. Lee did an excellent job at all the different accents, the different personalities and the distinct situations.
I recommend Clavell's "Noble House" yet in particular I recommend John Lee's rendition of this great asian saga.
If you haven't read James Clavell's Asian Saga you are depriving yourself of an amazing journey that begins in the 15th century in Japan's feudal Shogunate period, capturing your attention and your imagination with "Shogun," and refuses to let go as you move through the series with Tai Pan, Gai Jin, King Rat, Noble House and finally Whirlwind.
Clavell was an incredible story-teller who opens up a world and a culture largely unknown to those of us in the West, and it is a profound loss to the literary world that he passed away before he was able to finish the entire saga. However, don't let that scare you away as I promise you won't be left wanting.
I recognize that this review is supposed to be specific to Nobel House, but every book in the series is a high five-stars, so dive in with Shogun and lose yourself in one of the most amazing stories ever told.
Actual rating is 3.5 stars, but Clavell you know... This book had some great moments (like connection to "King Rat"), but yet it was short to deliver. It had too much boring scenes and too much "business talk" for my test. Before I read this book, I read "Gai-Jin" which considers far worst book than this one, but I loved it. I was hopping that this one (considers as one of his best) will be at least as good as "Gai-Jin", unfortunately for me it wasn't. I think that this book is better in a second reading, and I think that maybe in one day I'll want to reread the whole saga, and I hope I'll love it as I loved the previous ones. As for now, it was a decent book.
Edit (after second read): No it wasn't better the second time around, actually it was even worse. decreased the rating to 2 stars. The worst in the series.
Popular fiction bordering on great. As with many of James Clavell's works they could easily be viewed as dated rather than a period work or 'historical fiction'.
This view of mine is based on how Clavell relates the contemporaneous social and political views of the time in his works. Whether he was writing for the ages is doubtful, but the plot and story is timeless. Greed and intrigue and power are always sound subjects on which to build a tale.
Dated or not I've got to read this and several of the authors works again for probably the first time in twenty or more years.
Not quite as good as Tai-pan, but a continuation of it & anyone who liked the first will like this. Is almost as well done. Set in the 1960's, it's similar in a lot of ways to Tai-Pan. One of the cool things is Clavell writes himself into this book as a reporter, Peter Marlow. It's not a huge part, but fun.
Ένα ακόμη αριστούργημα του Clavell τοποθετημένο στην Ανατολή.
Στο Χονγκ Κονγκ του 1963, οι μπίζνες είναι πόλεμος, οι οικογένειες θεσμός, ο Τάι Παν απόλυτος άρχων με πήλινα πόδια και η επιτυχία ή η καταστροφή ζήτημα "τζος". Ο ψυχρός πόλεμος κινείται στις παρυφές της επιχειρηματικής δραστηριότητας, το χρηματιστήριο ανεβοκατεβαίνει και κατολισθήσεις και πλημμύρες παρασύρουν τα πάντα και παίρνουν πλούσιους και φτωχούς στο διάβα τους.
Σε ένα καλοδουλεμένο βιβλίο τεράστιας έκτασης που δε χάνει όμως πουθενά τη συνοχή του, βλέπουμε τον Ίαν Νταν Ρος, Τάι Παν της Στρούαν με τις πολυσχιδείς δραστηριότητες (και απόγονο του ιδρυτή του Ευγενούς Οίκου Ντερκ Στρούαν) να προσπαθεί να ανταπεξέλθει στο κακό τζος και τις επιθέσεις του βασικού του ανταγωνιστή. Στη βδομάδα που ακολουθεί, τα πάντα θα έρθουν πάνω-κάτω αρκετές φορές, ο οίκος θα φλερτάρει με την καταστροφή και σε ένα τεράστιο παρασκηνιακό χορό που κινητοποιεί κάθε δύναμη και οντότητα με κάποια ισχύ στο Χονγκ-Κονγκ θα υφανθούν συνομωσίες, θα γίνουν δολοφονίες, θα γίνουν συμμαχίες που θα καταλυθούν, θα ζητηθούν χάρες και θα δοθούν ανταλλάγματα, θα γίνουν τα πάντα τέλεια σκηνογραφημένα και χωρίς υπερβολές.
Πέρα από τη βασική πλοκή, αρκετές υπο-πλοκές (που δένουν όμως με την κεντρική) κρατούν αμείωτο το ενδιαφέρον και κάθε σελίδα φέρνει ένα ακόμα δράμα, μία ακόμη ανύψωση ή μια ακόμη καταστροφή στους φρανήρεις ρυθμούς του βιβλίου και της ζωής στο Χονγκ Κονγκ όπως την περιγράφει ο Clavell. Κι ο έρωτας, δυτικότροπος και ανατολικοτραφής θα δώσει κι αυτός το στίγμα του, αλλάζοντας ισορροπίες, απόψεις και κοσμοθεωρίες.
Πολλά από τα περιστατικά που περιγράφονται είναι πραγματικά, ακόμη και οι μάχες των εταιριών (με αλλαγμένα ονόματα), κάτι που και αληθοφάνεια προσδίδει, αλλά κυρίως δείχνει το εύρος της έρευνας του Clavell πριν τη συγγραφή.
A Beautiful Mind The story in Noble House is complex with a lot of unexpected plot twists but you won’t miss any details because James Clavell doesn’t let you to blink for a moment. He is a powerful writer and if you’d want to learn more about Asia, there is nothing more promising than his Asian Saga novels.
A Week in 1375 Pages Be prepared for a long bumpy road with sudden turns… Clavell sends you back in 1963 and lets you immerse into Hong Kong’s business life, customs and traditions, love affairs and politics. The story revolves around a precarious financial situation of Struan’s trading company. The Taipan of the company, Ian Dunross, tries to overcome the obstacles set by his enemies and seeks partnership with Par-Con, an American company led by Lincoln Barlett. Struan’s archenemy company managed by Quillan Gornt seeks to destroy Struan’s and makes a deal with Par-Con behind Dunross’ back.
But that’s not everything the main characters need to face… Hong Kong becomes a target of the Chinese communists, Taiwanese nationalists, and Soviet spies while the British government tries to keep their influence at bay. There is also a bank run, a bear raid, love affairs, smuggling operations and natural disasters…
Can you imagine experiencing all this in just one week?
Main Characters James Clavell is a genius when it comes to creating his characters. Every character has their own motivations and goals and with the multiple sub-plots in the novel, these make the story so intriguing. Every character has a distinguished voice and only after a few pages, you can already hear them talking in your head. The main characters are controversial and yet, likable. This makes them believable and relatable to the readers – who doesn’t have conflicts in their life?
If you had read King Rat before Noble House, you would be quite delighted to see that Clavell begins to connect the characters from his Asian saga novels in Noble House. Peter Marlowe, who is a Changi prisoner in King Rat appears in Noble House as an important subplot, an author researching a novel about Hong Kong. Thus, Clavell creates a world – a successful representation of Asia not just Hong Kong and gets the readers to believe that the stories are based on real life.
Behind the scenes What I love most about the novel is that the readers get to learn more about the life, customs, and traditions in Asia. Clavell gives us a brief history of the Struan’s company and how it became so powerful (here is a hint: a woman managed the company behind the scenes; she needed to ask for favours to save the company and the company succeeded without malicious actions). We get to know more about the rules in Asia’s business world where women’s opinion and presence is not welcomed.
From a psychological point of view, it’s quite interesting to see how women are perceived and treated back then. I would not say that they are treated badly but just differently than what today’s European society describes as normal. I find quite intriguing the way in which Orlanda and other characters describe the women’s place in their society. Women are feminine, gentle, and compassionate, which are things they can use to manipulate men and yet, they are sometimes portrayed as tools of the males, especially if the men are successful. The conflict between the two main female characters, Orlanda and Casey, gives the readers food for thought – should we strive for something in between instead of seeing life as one-sided?
The novel was written in the late 90s but the questions it poses are still critical for today’s society. If you are looking for a book that will both entertain and stimulate you intellectually, Noble House should be on top of your list.
It's the sixties and the Noble House is caught in serious trouble. Led by several disastrous administrations it finally encounters a new Taipan worthy of the title. A man who won't stop at nothing to assure that the company remains the number one company in the Hong Kong multibillionaire trading business. Both Taipan and Noble House, even more, gravitate around wealth and power. I'll tell you, it may be part of a formula after all its appeal is very strong, but it sure works. It builds an aura of glamour, of luxury, of dreams fulfilled. In Noble House especially, the atmosphere smells of single malts, expensive champagnes, and fine cigars. It's the multimillionaire's world and Clavell seems to know his way around it. As usual, the characters are great, the villains are powerful and charming and the good guys may earn that title but they are also as ruthless as the villains. The main character Ian Dunross Struan is a direct descendant of the legendary founder of the noble house Dirk Struan and the jumping genes really hit him. Dunross has the fierceness and the inexorable drive of Dirk and in Clavell's own words have the same devil's blood. The plot is really great and the amount of characters is astounding, but Clavell doesn't get confused, he ties all the dots and builds a climax towards the ending that surprises and convinces. One scene, in the beginning of the book, helps to build the aura of Hong Kong in the reader's mind. It's a dialogue between a detective and another lead character. This guy asks the detective what is that smell he's been picking up. The detective asks "what smell?", and the guy answers "well this smell, you know, it's everywhere" and the detective goes "oh! That smell. That's the smell of money." Noble House, friends, another hit by Clavell.
If you read this, you will understand why "May you live in interesting times!" is a curse in the Hong kong Cantonese culture! It is not an amazingly well written novel. But the content documents a time/people I know intimately. For that reason, it is a good start to understanding how complicated it is and how many world powers and non have their mittens in the continued existence of Hong kong. Nobel house is a simple beginners way of seeing how every civilisation that rules/ruled the world... congregated on one little island and those 6.5million Hong kongers who "hosted" this little ...hmm..."love in" (sic. I'm being sarcastic...slightly...there was no "love" involved....)Read it and say hi to some of the people for me! ceciliawyu.wordpress.com
So this was recommended by a friend and I mean- where to start? The awful writing (women quiver at the protagonist's 'unbridled masculinity'), the three plots that don't really tie together, the high dislikeability level of most major characters, the use of 'fornicating' rather than the usual f-word (which got really fornicating annoying)....despite all this, I stuck with 1300 page whopper, and feel slightly bereft now it's over. It's like Stockholm syndrome. Ps- just remembered the scene where a female character gets sexually assaulted and then laughs it off and goes to drink champagne with her attacker. There's an undercurrent (actually, often an overcurrent) of misogyny that Clavell presents as 'just how the times were' but makes no attempts to condemn.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Big let down in the annual tradition of reading a James Clavell book. Hong Kong of the 1960s is hardly as interesting as the one in Tai Pan or Japan in Shogun. Rather than being a great story layered with rich historical undercurrents, this book is a weird mix of glorified post-colonial gentry, pseudo feminism and cringe-worthy romance writing. The fact that this book is a 1400 page monster with several unfulfilled arcs and at least 20 pointless characters with elaborate backstories makes me angrier.
Не толкова добра, колкото "Шогун" или поне на мен така ми се стори. Хубавото е, че освен като продължение на "Тай-пан", в "Търговска къща" Клавел продължава историите на някои от героите си от предишните си книги, дори и на тези от "Шогун". Действието се развива бързо и няма как да ти доскучее, докато я четеш. Героите са многопластови, изградени с много мисъл и план.
Not the best story, but some of the best characters out there. Also, the reader for the audiobook version is amazingly versatile. I do recommend giving it a chance as audiobook, although it's 54.5 h long...
Someday I'd like to hear from someone who lived in Hong Kong to determine this books accuracy, especially regarding the way the Chinese refer to each other. The NY Times seems to think the book was quite accurate. It certainly was entertaining. I ended up liking it even more than I thought I would. All of it's many threads and plot points flowed together in the end. No small feat for a 55 hour audiobook! The 1988 mini-series isn't bad either and it was 6 hrs (available for $7 in HD on VUDO right now). If you don't mind watching Remington Steele (that's 007 to you Millennials) pair up with the alcoholic aunt from 7th Heaven.
''The general opinion in Hong Kong about Mr. Clavell's novels is that they are the work of an extremely professional reporter who goes to great lengths to provide accurate background for his stories which reflect much of the spirit of the places about which he is writing,'' says James N. Dreaper, public relations manager for the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. ''He is certainly regarded as one of the few writers who really 'knows' Hong Kong.'' Alvin Rabushka, a senior fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution and author of three books on Hong Kong, was married in Hong Kong the day before ''Noble House'' opens in 1963. Aside from a slight exaggeration of the importance of the large trading companies to Hong Kong's economy, he finds ''Noble House'' so uncannily accurate in all aspects that the general public may not have the background to appreciate just how good it is. - NY Time Magazine, Sept. 13, 1981, Section 6, Page 46 of the National edition with the headline: MAKING OF A LITERARY SHOGUN.