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A CONCUBINE FOR THE FAMILY

READER’S REVIEWS

By Robert H Brim

An engaging story, September, 2016

This review is from: A Concubine for the Family: A Family Saga in China (kindle)

I met the author on a trip and was fascinated by some of the stories she told of her family in China. The book brought those stories to life. I highly recommend it to anyone that enjoys attempting to understand different cultures.

By Stephanie Sorensen

A Good Read, July, 2016

This review is from: A Concubine for the Family: A Family Saga in China (kindle)

I did like this book. Amy Tan is one of my favorite authors, and while this book isn't quite as good as her stories, it was still captivating in its own right.

By William L King

Moving forward: On Bigger Feet, November, 2016

This review is from: A Concubine for the Family: A Family Saga in China (Paperback)

I found this book by Ms. Kwei, a facinating view of the life in 1930's China, especially from a woman's POV. I feel I better understand some of the ordeal that women went through in that culture, and can readily apply it to my own present day America. I have a better grasp of what real subservience entails, and the psyche that puts family in such a prominent place in everyday life. The importance of a male heir, is a well known fact, but the manner in which it is personalized here, gives one a totally new perspective.

The detail regarding the torture to attain a 3 inch foot (the ideal), along with the life long pain it entailed was unforgetable.

I look forward to more work from Ms. Kwei.

5 stars

By Debbie

Well Written, April 2017

This review is from: A Concubine for the Family: A Family Saga in China (Kindle Edition)

I have read a !ot of historical fiction of these times. I thought the book flowed well from one character to the next while giving you greater insights as to why things were done as they were.

By Jooelle Guirma

A different time to travel to, August, 2017

This review is from: A Concubine for the Family: A Family Saga in China (Paperback)

Immersing one self into different worlds, is one of the purpose of a good book for me, A Concubine for the Family did just that. The experience of the classic Chinese culture fighting for survival in a new world brought forth by a world war could be experienced by the reader through each characters and their personal strugles. Although I would classify it as a tragedy, I enjoyed the idealism of the structure and stronghold of family and what it represented at the time.

By Susan C. Tom

Well-written, lots of details..., September, 2017

This review is from: A Concubine for the Family: A Family Saga in China (kindle)

Well-written, lots of details on traditional Chinese life but especially interesting to look into how new Western ways slowly changes and is accepted into the "old" way of Chinese life. I found the ending disturbing because the story suddenly stopped. What happened? Then I discovered there is a sequel!

Milpitas

November, 2017

This review is from: A Concubine for the Family: A Family Saga in China (kindle)

Interesting story line. Enjoyed the descriptions of the landscapes and the people. I would recommend this book.

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Matthew D Peters

Chinese Story, June, 2016

This review is from: A Concubine for the Family: A Family Saga in China (kindle)

Well written story of a family during early 1920,s when Japan invaded China. The struggle to survive and carry out the tradition of the times.

Amanda Lee

Alright, April, 2016

This review is from: A Concubine for the Family: A Family Saga in China (kindle)

There were a few characters to keep up with, but other than that a decently written book.

Chris Minto

A Fascinating Story, March, 2016

This review is from: A Concubine for the Family: A Family Saga in China (kindle)

I really liked it. I would recommend it to those who love Asian historical fiction.

Te-puea J. hansen

Enjoyable read, March, 2016

This review is from: A Concubine for the Family: A Family Saga in China (kindle)

Good insight into life as it was then.

Amazon Customer

An excellent opportunity to get an idea about the Chinese culture, February, 2016

This review is from: A Concubine for the Family: A Family Saga in China (kindle)

An excellent opportunity to get an idea about the Chinese culture and life. I knew nothing about it so even a glimpse was fascinating. The author translated into English the names and some expressions the people in the book use and that really is extremely important for understanding. I never wanted to put the book aside. Wish I could learn more about China that way.

Alvaro Lemus Cruz

It was a good reading, November, 2015

This review is from: A Concubine for the Family: A Family Saga in China (kindle)

It was a good book, though the author started with one novel and ended with something completely different. I enjoyed it, but still think the book could've been written in two separate novels.

Kindle Customer

A beautiful book that you can easily visualize, October, 2015

This review is from: A Concubine for the Family: A Family Saga in China (kindle)

i would rather look at history through a microscope rather that be bored with useless facts. This is a lovely story- true or not with characters that i fell in love with. Hopefully there will be more from Ms Kwei.

J L Boys

October, 2015

This review is from: A Concubine for the Family: A Family Saga in China (kindle)

GOOD BOOK ENDING WAS A LITTLE UNCLEAR.

Wolfofthesea

September, 2015

This review is from: A Concubine for the Family: A Family Saga in China (kindle)

More background into Chinese history and customs.

Sharon H Stewart

An interesting book but not over-the-top wonderful, September, 2015

This review is from: A Concubine for the Family: A Family Saga in China (kindle)

An interesting book but not over-the-top wonderful. Gives a perspective of Chinese life and culture from the standpoint of the elite. It is interesting how the family -- particularly the main character -- adjust to the changing times and conditions of their life.

Christine Nimon

Epic story, August, 2015

This review is from: A Concubine for the Family: A Family Saga in China (kindle)

Slow to get into, but what an epic story.

Nikki

Loved it and wished it would not end, July, 2015

This review is from: A Concubine for the Family: A Family Saga in China (kindle)

Very interesting and hard to put down book. Loved it and wished it would not end. Have to get the sequel.

Kindle Customer

Good, May, 2015

This review is from: A Concubine for the Family: A Family Saga in China (kindle)

Good.

Informative. Suspenseful. Held my interest.

I enjoyed the development of purple jade. Her found freedom and her found self worth.

Nancy

Well worth the read!, April, 2015

This review is from: A Concubine for the Family: A Family Saga in China (kindle)

I really enjoyed this aurthor’s writing where you were right there throughout living their lives along side. It was written during a difficult time for many and really brought out the hardships.

Lorraine Hamed

Well worth the read!, April, 2015

This review is from: A Concubine for the Family: A Family Saga in China (kindle)

I liked the book, it's a good read, just disappointing in the end.

Daniel P

April, 2015

This review is from: A Concubine for the Family: A Family Saga in China (kindle)

Historical background good, story sort of boring....

Laryssa Parker

Five Stars, March, 2015

This review is from: A Concubine for the Family: A Family Saga in China (kindle)

Excellent to read about Chinese culture.

Pat

China, March, 2015

This review is from: A Concubine for the Family: A Family Saga in China (kindle)

This story explains the tragedy of the rape of China by the western and eastern powers of the day. Purple Jade and her family had to learn new ways, endure the losses and death of members of their family and death of the family itself. Purple Jade was the strength of this sad group to the end.

Gail J. Tatangelo

I was amazed in how fast I read this book, March, 2015

This review is from: A Concubine for the Family: A Family Saga in China (kindle)

I was amazed in how fast i read this book. I could not put it down. You kept me up very late a few nights The story was wonderful and I gained much insight about China that i never realized before. Thank you and I hope to read more from you soon.

Mamone

February, 2015

This review is from: A Concubine for the Family: A Family Saga in China (kindle)

Nice to get an insight into another way of life.

Elena Azzarelli

Truly Boring, February, 2015

This review is from: A Concubine for the Family: A Family Saga in China (kindle)

After the first few chapters I found that I just couldn't force myself to continue.  I have only not completed a book one other time. I saw the writing on the wall and knew things weren't going to improve. It's difficult to lose a passionate dedicated reader of many years. This was sadly a waste of my time and money.  Frustrating. I gave it one star because someone recognized something here in order to be published, however, I'm not even on board for the one.

Rachel Barnard

Culturally Rich and Fascinating, January, 2015

This review is from: A Concubine for the Family: A Family Saga in China (kindle)

The Huang family is without an heir… In early to mid 19th century China, this has grave consequences for the old traditions. Purple Jade has the humility, dignity, and pragmatism to bring an heir to the Huangs in any culturally justified means available: a Concubine for the Family.

    The violence in this book was softened. The cultural shock was softened. The bad guy was ambiguous. Amy Kwei chose to soften the blow of the violence in this book by using a mellowing narrative voice. I thought it was fitting for the author to soften her words and perspective (softening the truth perhaps), because the characters and persons in the book showed considerable restraint. Where you or I would lash out in voice or action, Purple Jade held her peace and showed that she was considering both sides to a situation (in her thoughts). The author describes this as a concept of fixing yourself before fixing the world: “By cultivating oneself, we can regulate the family; by regulating the family, we can govern the state; by governing the state, we can bring peace on earth. When order and kindness direct the world, heaven will be pleased.” (Page 326). What a wonderful concept that everyone should adopt, at least in part, and the world would be a better place.

    Perhaps the bad guy was not a single person, but actions of people or actions of a country. Perhaps it is fate or old traditions. Perhaps it is the concept of war. Kwei gives the reader much to ponder by not handing us a simple and easy character to despise and blame. The characters are just as much prone to their fate as we are in real life.

    I get a little lost in the politics of a country’s history I know nothing about and a country’s culture I am quite unfamiliar with, but that’s what makes this book so fascinating. Kwei describes the proper way to eat and what is proper to eat. She describes when and who speaks, political gains and favors, and the halting way of speaking (as if it’s been translated just for our eyes). I am peeking into a world I would normally not have insight into and it is described in enough detail to give me a taste without having overwhelming flavor.

    I very much enjoyed Kwei’s descriptions of cultural traditions and the differences between modern living and traditions of the past. The concept of “saving face” was intriguing, as was the struggle between culture and shame.

    “If we can agree with their concept that each person is endowed with thoughts and feelings worthy of singular attention, more opportunities and developments would surely follow.” (Page 298).

    I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys historical fiction with a political element, culturally rich stories, novels featuring Chinese in China, or a novel with a strong female lead.

Sorel

Interesting read, January, 2015

This review is from: A Concubine for the Family: A Family Saga in China (kindle)

Liked everything BUT the way it ended. Too ma n y loose ennds should have taken it further to see how it all resolved and what happened to them after the war ended.

Evelyn Mizak

Wonderful Look Into the Ancient Chinese Culture, December, 2014

This review is from: A Concubine for the Family: A Family Saga in China (kindle)

A wonderfully written tale of the lives of a fairly wealthy Chinese family which is almost destroyed when the Japanese invade China in the late 1930s. The author effortlessly guides us into a completely different culture, a culture where learning & education are respected, but also where ancient tradition must also be respected and followed. I enjoyed this book immensely.

Dewey Simpson

Wonderful Book!, November, 2014

This review is from: A Concubine for the Family: A Family Saga in China (kindle)

Very well written and it makes you feel like you are looking over the writer's shoulders the story unfolds. Powerful view of China.

Shirley Gerald Ware, Fresh! Literary Magazine

February, 2014

This review is from: A Concubine for the Family: A Family Saga in China (paperback)

Amy Kwei gives readers a heavy dosage of Chinese culture during the lead up to WWII, in 1937. Her portrayal of the central character, Purple Jade, is very intriguing and crafty. Purple Jade is a mix of old and new Chinese traditions. Her heroism is impeccable. As a young girl, Purple Jade's feet were bound in order to transform them into" golden lilies" as the ancient traditions prescribed. But the old tradition is no longer practiced in China, so her maid is given the task of straightening her shriveled toes, bring her intense Pain. Purple Jade is a very smart woman who is adored by her household staff. Despite being smart and cable of running a business, boys are always given the more favorable positions than girls.

    The author surrounds the character of Purple Jade with a very loyal and trusted mistress. With her brother,Glorious Dragon she encounter Little Six, a young girl working in a opium den. Purple Jade takes on the task of giving Little Six a place to live as one of her hired help. I found myself fascinated with Amy Kwei's story telling. She really did her homework before writing this engaging novel, and her detailed narrative style bringing out the mixed elements of good and evil in all her characters. This book is truly a worthwhile read and comes highly recommend by me.

Saul Lowitt, Ph.D.

August, 2013

This review is from: A Concubine for the Family: A Family Saga in China (paperback)

I was much impressed by Amy's careful attention to the historical background for the events that happened during that period in her novel. She also did good research that provided her with accurate factual information such as foot binding and how bound feet had to be managed and taken care of. They lend verisimilitude, which to me is all the more important since her audience comes from individuals who are mostly unfamiliar with Chinese cultural values.

    Novels dealing with traditional Chinese values tend to display a maudlin concern when describing family relationships. Amy successfully avoid this pitfall, for the old traditions were often set against the westernized influences brought in by their daughters from the missionary schools and from Western corporate practices. It is a good story, which I enjoyed reading.

Joanq

January, 2018

This review is from: A Concubine for the Family: A Family Saga in China (kindle)

I enjoyed this book tremendously. It beautifully weaves a story of a family in China trying to maintain its ancient traditions while struggling with the influence of western ways whose lives are even further threatened during WWII.

Tai Chi Pat

March, 2018

This review is from: A Concubine for the Family: A Family Saga in China (kindle)

I highly recommend this book. At first I had a hard time connecting with and feeling engaged with the book because it begins with the traditional, quiescent, and cosseted life of an upper class Han Chinese wife and mother with bound feet, at the early onset of WWII. The book gains momentum and interest as her life and the lives of her family, relatives and close servants are impacted dramatically by the events leading up to full blown world war. This takes them from their serene family compound in their quiet village, to Shanghai, then Hong Kong, and then beyond, as countries and cultures clash and erupt into mayhem and invasions. The title of the book does not really capture what the book is really about. The reader sees the family, the disintegrating Chinese government and nation, the missionaries, the colonialists, the invaders, and Chinese traditions through the eyes of this upper class Han Chinese wife and mother, as events unfold. Through her perspective I saw the institution of concubines as no more than surrogate wombs to produce male heirs as part of Chinese patriarchy traditions. (Unfortunately, the bias for males still persists today in China and in overseas ethnic Chinese communities created by the diaspora.) There are many interesting characters in the book, such as the Westernized brother and his resourceful and opportunistic mistress. The main character’s changing perspective and increasing empowerment is what held my interest, as the long held traditions, including concubinage, no longer hold logic or reason within the context of war and survival. To me, Purple Jade became the heroine and symbol of female empowerment, much like Rosie the Riveter