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Under The Red Moon

READER’S REVIEWS

By Ellie Taren

December 2016

Well written, a excellent bit of history with clear and real story. I would recommend this book to anyone. Please read.

By Renata Brailovsky

December 2016

I enjoyed reading the book immensely. Could not put it down. The different characters are very well developed. Learned a lot about chinese history. I would say it is a historical novel. I recommend it highly.

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By Kathleen McDermott

December 2016

I read Under The Red Moon over the holidays and, knowing it was based on real-life experiences of your family and friends, found it absorbing and poignant.

     As one of the characters points out, Chinese history in the first half of the 20th century is that of trauma and dislocation. These characters embody that abstract idea, in different, fully human ways. The fictional sufferings--and strengths--of three sisters (along with Brook ma-ma and Purple Jade, as well as the two key men€ (Yung and Donald) bring China's sufferings and strengths to vivid life.

     I also understand better the enduring resilience of Chinese cultural and family traditions.

By Robert Hildreth

December 2016

Under the Red Moon, Ms Kwei's historical novel, is a story of mid-20th century China. She shows a thorough knowledge of her subject as well as a keen writing skill.

     The story is woven though the tumultuous and dangerous lives of three sisters which gives it an immediacy and human interest. It is a book that once you pick it up, you won't want to put it down.

By Jill Maneschi

January 2017

Amy Kwei’s sequel novel to ‘A Concubine for the Family’ is a masterful blend of family narrative and post-World War II Chinese history. Between the moving first chapters and the dramatic final ones the reader is led on a revelatory journey of young romance, hope for the future, terrible tribulations, stoic endurance in spite of  enormous odds and a final rescue of most of the characters.

      The dramatic history of family and country is accomplished by some heart-stopping writing and competent use of simile, for example, ‘the distant hills undulated like a mythical dragon racing alongside the train’ (page 227) and ‘like oil boiling inside a cauldron her emotions surfaced as if the suffering were alive within her again’ (page 335). I invite readers to find for themselves other examples of Amy Kwei’s fine writing; there are too many for me to list.

      I found the blend of insights obtained from both the Confucian and the Christian traditions heart-warming and loved the inclusion of  the enigmatic, therefore thought-provoking, poetry of Tu Fu. These quotes provide a sharp contrast to the platitudes of Chairman Mao which also feature in the novel.

     It is a coincidence that I am writing this review in Sydney (Australia) during the celebrations of the Chinese New Year. The Opera House, Harbour Bridge and Town Hall are illuminated and fireworks adorn the sky. In a local paper I find the recipe for ‘Beggar’s Chicken’, the favourite dish of one of the characters in this novel. I read with interest that the chicken is cooked whole because this represents abundance and completeness. As in her previous novel the author’s interest in food and a love of cooking is apparent.

     In the context of tasty, nourishing food I took note of the vivid descriptions of composting in Wei Village chapters. As a keen gardener and composter myself I know its value in the production of home-grown vegetables. In the particular cases being described the enriched soil provided nourishment which no doubt saved lives.

     Once again I congratulate Ms Kwei on a great read.

By Joyce Jordan

May 23, 2017

I did not realize until I received this book that it is a sequel to the book A Concubine for the Family by Amy Kwei. However, I did not feel like I was missing anything as I read the book. This novel focuses on 3 Chinese sisters (although one was a half-sister) in the Huang family and the different paths their lives took during the time period 1945 to 1968. It starts with the 2 older sisters, Golden Bell and Silver Bell living and attending school in Syracuse, NY. Golden Bell is attending Syracuse University and Silver Bell is in high school. They had both ended up in the United States through the assistance of a missionary after their family had to flee China and go to Hong Kong because of the father's involvement with the Nationalist Party. The lives of all 3 of the sisters diverge widely after both Golden Bell and Silver Bell return to China and are greatly impacted by the men they each marry. Golden Bell marries Yung, the son of a wealthy family and Silver Bell marries a man intent on making his way up the ladder in Yung's company. Coral Bell, the youngest, is the daughter of a concubine who was the personal maid to Golden Bell and Silver Bell's mother and ends up getting involved with the Communist Party.


Through the events of these women's lives, the reader is given a vivid portrayal of all the political and social changes that China goes through as a country---from the devastation by the Japanese to extreme poverty and the disasters of the revolution under Mao Tse Tung. Golden Bell's journal reveals her confusion and distress about the changes going on in the country which seem to be against everything her parents believed in. Through Coral Bell, the reader sees what life was life for the impoverished people of China and the horrors of the revolutionaries as they destroyed people and the land. This book gave me a fascinating view of a period of history in China and how it affected the lives of all different types of people.


I gave the book 4 stars instead of 5 stars because I felt the characters could have been developed more fully, especially Silver Bell.

Amazon Customer

June 23, 2017

While some sadness was contained in the ending of this book, I was very pleased to finally find out the rest of the story. I felt for the family for all their hardship and difficulties navigating a lot of cultural upheaval. Very good series and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

By Amazon Customer

April 2017

This superb page-turner is the story of three sisters who live in Shanghai, Hong Kong, and New York from 1945 to 1968. I learned a great deal about Chinese history and culture and would recommend this novel highly to anybody interested in China. I won this book in a Goodreads.com giveaway.

By Marty

April 2017

This historical novel is a saga told through the eyes of three sisters spanning the tumult of modern China from 1945 through 1968. This gripping emotional story satisfies the heart and informs us of the physical and psychic trauma that is so formative of the Chinese consciousness. I hope this book finds wide readership since the understanding it imparts nurtures the seed of better Chinese American relations.

By RSG

February 2017

Under the Red Moon is the stirring story of the Huang family’s confrontation with historical events during a tumultuous period in 20th Century China. Amy Kwei seamlessly interweaves Chinese history and culture into an exciting narrative that depicts the lives of three sisters who responded to the violence and chaos of the times in different ways.

     The chapters depicting two of the sisters’ years as students in Syracuse, New York were especially interesting as they depict the girls’ transition from culture shock to adaptation to and appreciation of American life. Later, joining their half-sister in their homeland, the girls would ultimately make different choices in an environment vastly different than the one they had experienced as daughters of a cultured, “book fragrant” family. Their struggles to reunite their family make up the central theme of this book that is the sequel to A Concubine for the Family.

     This is an absorbing novel with an intriguing plot and richly detailed settings, giving the reader the rare opportunity to learn about Chinese heritage from a writer who was inspired by her own family history.