The Courtesan

The Courtesan

A Novel in Six Parts

Book - 2015
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A timeless novel of one woman who bridged two worlds in a tumultuous era of East meets West

The Courtesan  is an astonishing tale inspired by the real life of a woman who lived and loved in the extraordinary twilight decades of the Qing dynasty. To this day, Sai Jinhua is a legend in her native land of China, and this is her story, told the way it might have been.

The year is 1881. Seven-year-old Jinhua is left an orphan, alone and unprotected after her mandarin father's summary execution for the crime of speaking the truth. For seven silver coins, she is sold to a brothel-keeper and subjected to the worst of human nature. Will the private ritual that is her father's legacy and the wise friendship of the crippled brothel maid be enough to sustain her? 

When an elegant but troubled scholar takes Jinhua as his concubine, she enters the close world of his jealous first wife. Yet it is Jinhua who accompanies him--as Emissary to the foreign devil nations of Prussia, Austro-Hungary, and Russia--on an exotic journey to Vienna. As he struggles to play his part in China's early, blundering diplomatic engagement with the western world, Jinhua's eyes and heart are opened to the irresistible possibilities of a place that is mesmerizing and strange, where she will struggle against the constraints of tradition and her husband's authority and seek to find "Great Love."

Sai Jinhua is an altered woman when she returns to a changed and changing China, where a dangerous clash of cultures pits East against West. The moment arrives when Jinhua's western sympathies will threaten not only her own survival, but the survival of those who are most dear to her. 

A book that shines a small light on the large history of China's relationship with the West,  The Courtesan  is a novel that distills, with the economy of a poem, a woman's journey of untold miles to discern what is real and abiding. 
Publisher: New York, New York :, Dutton,, [2015]
ISBN: 9780525955139
0525955135
Branch Call Number: FICTION Curry Alexandr 08/2015
Characteristics: xi, 378 pages ;,24 cm

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AL_STEFFEN Nov 23, 2016

Told from multiple perspectives I was entertained throughout, but it was no Amy Tan!
However, like many books set in China there is some real vivid and rich setting description.
Also there was this sentence that really shocked me!,
"It is the way of women to bind our daughter's feet.. If we don't do this, how will your c**t become tight and your buttocks firm from walking in a woman's way."

Manateestarz Jun 06, 2016

A fairly well-written novel
about an obscure,but real, historical figure, courtesan, Sai Jinhua. This book, while thin on characterization, does provide a great starting place for studying the relationship of China to Western Europe/Germany during this turbulent time in history. Author Curry provides a great bibliography in the back.

s
singasong70
Nov 13, 2015

Interesting enough (as previous critique noted), feels like I have read it b/f, however, Memoirs of a Geisha, which I liked better. Stories like this follow a similar theme I have found, Asian girl/child sold (into concubinage) by woman/man who do not have a conscience (if you ask me). Which makes you wonder: where is love and respect in these stories for females, respect most of all?

d2013 Oct 04, 2015

Was expecting more but still an interesting read!

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