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Madam in Silk

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  27 ratings  ·  19 reviews
San Francisco, 1849. Despite her objections, Ah Toy and servant Chen arrive in San Francisco from Hong Kong after her husband dies aboard ship. With little cash and bound feet, she opens a "Lookee Shop," catering to men who pay in gold dust to see her exotic beauty. Among them policeman John Clark finds her captivating and they form a strong attraction for one another. Yet ...more
Paperback, 476 pages
Published July 15th 2019 by Jgks Press
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Oct 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thank you Historical Fiction Virtual Tours and the author for a complimentary copy. I voluntarily reviewed this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

Madam In Silk
By: Gini Grossenbacher

My knowledge of mid 19th century San Francisco and the gold rush, etc. is not vast. Madam In Silk is more than a story-it's an education. I highly respect all of the research that the author obviously poured into this book. It's well done without being too heavy. The heroine, Ah Toy, and her lifelong
Mar 07, 2020 rated it liked it
Find this and other reviews at: https://historicalfictionreader.blogs...

Gini Grossenbacher’s Madam in Silk takes its inspiration from the life of Ah Toy, America’s first Chinese Madam. It’s fascinating subject matter, especially for those encountering it for the first time, but the delivery of this fictionalized version of her life fell a measure short of my expectations.

To be fair, my middling assessment of Madam in Silk is not entirely Grossenbacher’s fault. Reviews and ratings are intensely s
Sarah 🌺 Books in Their Natural Habitat

This is the first book I’ve read by Ms. Grossenbacher and surely will not be my last; I ordered her other book from Amazon when I was in the middle of Madam in Silk!

This book starts off with a bang as Ah Toy immediately faces death, a change of plans and the risk of everything she crossed the ocean for being pulled out from under her by no choice of her own. Right off the bat, I was inspired by Ah’s tenacity and what she refers to as her inner dragon. The hits just keep coming in the years to co
Sep 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: on-my-shelves
Very interesting read into the historical aspects of the Chinese women coming over to the United States during the Gold Rush. Many of them came over here unfortunately to serve the men's needs, while others were trying to escape the horror of what happened to them over there to just have a different kind of abuse happen once they got here. It was very interesting to read about how these immigrants had to fight to stay here, and often they were taken against their will and put on ship, back to th ...more
gwendalyn _books_
Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was received as an ARC from the Author, in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own 
Thank you to Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and the Author

Listen to your Inner Dragon 🐉.....

Madam In Silk, is Gini Grossenbacher’s second novel in The American Madame Series.

Ah Toy, finds herself along with her dedicated lifelong servant Chen, on a ship bond for San Francisco. Her life takes a sudden twist when her husband dies on th
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An incredible new novel

I just finished this book last night and it was incredible. Ah Toy’s character was so easy to fall in love with. She had such a rough life and persevered despite all the horrible things she had to endure. This historical fiction novel looks at life in SF during the 1840’s and 1850’s and women who are forced to do the unthinkable just to survive. If you like novels like Honolulu or Moloka’i by Alan Brennert, you will love this book. Gini Grossenbacher develops her character
Dec 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Gentle Ah Toy has survived so much in her short life, from the binding of her feet in childhood, her abusive husband, the deaths of her girl babies, and arriving in San Francisco with no one but her loyal servant, Chen.

I was unable to put down the story of her survival in San Francisco, a riveting account of early California and the Gold Rush, and the first Chinese people to arrive in that chaotic time. Vigilante groups opposed to the immigration of Chinese, heap violence upon them. Ah Toy’s hus
Christina Francine
Jul 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Is making a living worth risking life and reputation? For Au Toy during the American Gold Rush, it was. There isn’t another way. When her abusive husband dies from consumption on the journey by ship from China in 1849, Au is left with her freedom, but without a way to support herself.
The price women pay for independence and safety historically is high. Many women used the only resource they had – their body. For Au Toy, her choices were even more limited due to her bound feet. Not wanting to
Sandra Warren
Sep 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Historical fiction lovers/women's history
Gini Grossenbacher has crafted the story of Mrs. Ah Toy's survival in SanFrancisco in the 1800's, a not so friendly place for "celestials" as they were called, in a way that makes you understand and accept Ah's choice of opening first a "Looksee" shop and later a house to entertain men seeking sexual favors.

The vivid descriptions of the good and the bad of that era in early SanFrancisco as well as the strong pull of tradition coming from Ah's home country of China, make Ah's daily struggles com
Shelley Buck
Dec 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Both a romance and a thriller, Gini Grossenbacher’s well-crafted historical novel relates the struggles of Chinese immigrant Ah Toy, one of San Francisco’s early madams, as she strives to attain and hang onto new-found autonomy as a woman in her adopted land. The issues the book explores, while firmly grounded in the author’s thorough research on the Gold Rush era and its turbulent excesses, remain surprisingly modern. Endowed with relatable characters, colorful ambiance, and high suspense, Gros ...more
Joanne Guidoccio
Jul 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Ms. Grossenbacher has produced a beautifully crafted novel filled with fresh insights into the plight of Chinese immigrants during the Gold Rush. Captivated from the start, I couldn’t read fast enough to discover how a 20-year-old widow with bound feet and limited financial resources survived and thrived in rowdy and dangerous 1800s San Francisco. Despite the many obstacles she faced, among them threats from a rival madam and encounters with local vigilantes and street thugs, Ah Toy listened to ...more
Linda Ulleseit
I enjoyed meeting Ah Toy in this novel. She is easy to fall in love with, a very sweet girl whose circumstances make her tough. She has bad luck with men, for sure! You will ache with her and rejoice with her as she navigates her way through early San Francisco, a place where women were rare and they had to be strong!
Oct 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
I am thoroughly enjoying my efforts in reading more books about American history. Most of my historical fiction has been in the realm of the English and French kingdoms. This year I have I have tried to stay on this continent. Madam in Silk tells the tale of Ah Toy, one of the first Chinese women in San Francisco. The novel is based on a real woman who came to San Francisco, lost her husband on the way over, and managed to become a wealthy woman. There are also records of her fighting for hersel ...more
Beth Schatz
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Madam in Silk is a beautifully written book that provides a clear window into the lives of mid 1900's San Francisco characters, all heavily influenced by-- but not directly a part of-- the California Gold Rush. These characters are well developed by the author, allowing the reader to quickly feel a part of the story. Ah Toy, the central figure, is a strong, resilient, bright, pragmatic and moral woman from a wealthy family in China who traveled by ship to San Francisco with her manservant Chen. ...more
Dennis Mahoney
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Most of us know that San Francisco was an untamed place during the California Gold Rush and that Chinese immigrants played a role, but Madame in Silk gives us fresh insights by looking at the era from the perspective of one of those immigrants who has an especially compelling story to tell. Arriving with no money at a time and place where an unmarried woman had few "respectable" options for survival, disabled because her parents had followed the custom of binding her feet as a small child, Ah To ...more
Dec 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Readers of historical fiction will revel in this compelling story about a celestial beauty from China who forges her own path in the rowdy world of uncivilized miners during the Gold Rush era of the mid-1800's. Madam in Silk is based on the historic character of Ah Toy, a notorious foot-bound beauty who desires a life of her own beyond the oppression of her native China. Ah Toy must navigate the brutal conditions of an emerging frontier town and also find the love of her life who is always just ...more
Carolyn Radmanovich
The book was well-written, dotted with poetic references and filled with marvelous characters. Based on a Chinese madam’s life story in the gold rush town of San Francisco, I became enthralled with the newly arrived widow with bound feet and the fact that she found the fortitude to support herself and her servant and become a success. The details of the fetid opium dens, the Chinese societies with their own justice system, and the courtroom scenes were all realistic and drew me into the story. I ...more
Virginia Simpson
Sep 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Madam in Silk transports the reader into the life of Ah Toy, a newly widowed beautiful young woman from China, who arrives in San Francisco during the Gold Rush era and eventually becomes a Madam in order to survive. I'm not one to give away plots, but I can assure you that this story, exquisitely written will hold your attention as you find yourself turning page after page.
Gini Grossenbacher has obviously done an incredible amount of research in order to include details which make mid-19th cen
Cherie O'Boyle
Nov 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating tapestry of real historical events, people, and settings woven and made richer with the author's imagination. Her attention to detail brings alive a time long past in a city many of us love still today. The sights, the smells, and the sounds. A creaking harness on the horse, the smell of whiskey and cigars on the men, the vivid detail of the Chinese furnishings. From start to finish, a captivating read. ...more
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