Reviewed by: Macy
Page count: 400 Pages
Rating: 3/5 stars
In stock: Yes
This book is by no means for the faint of heart. The imagery can sometimes make you uncomfortable when Jinhua accounts what happens TO her rather than AROUND her, but it sets the mood for the book and life of a courtesan (cross between a geisha and a prostitute) during the Qing Dynasty. Alexandra Currys writing style is a little different but I found it refreshing and appropriate for the story she was telling. After her mother dies in childbirth and her father is executed, Sai Jinhua is sold to a brothel and expected to learn how to pleasure men. Years after living in a brothel (owned by Lao Mama, a formidable woman) a gentleman comes to Jinhua claiming they were lovers in a past life and purchases her, making her his concubine.
Even with being sold as a child and having no say in her future Jinhua ends up having a bit of freedom and time to live her own life when her husband (a Chinese Emissary) is forced to go to Germany to make contacts and secure alliances for China. Jinhuas strong sense of curiosity soon leads her to making secret trips outside against her husband’s wishes, where she learns more about German culture and meets a gentleman she’ll never quite forget. The gentleman by no means makes this a romance novel. The encounter lasts only for a chapter or so to retreat back to the bitter story we’re being told. Although the gentleman makes the story a bit more bearable I found the novel to be realistic and more than once a little brutal, which was a nice change.