Title: Read Lotus (UK version)
Author: Pai Kit Fai
Published by Sphere (first published January 5th 2010)
Rating:4 out of 5 stars
I had a reading block for the longest time; hence the lack of posts. I haven’t blogged here for a while for the same reason and a book that bought an end to this block is worth mentioning. I literally devoured this book and considering it is 500 pages long, it says something.
Red Lotus is a story of 2 women, mother and daughter, who were unlucky to be born in a time and place which was not very kind to women. The book begins in the year 1906 at the Great Pine Spice Farm on the Pearl river in Southern China. In a rich farmers family, a young girl is bought as a concubine. She was a girl from an influential family but was sold because the family had fallen into bad times. The concubine gives birth to a girl who is named Li-Xia. Li-xia survives against all odds and manages to escape her house when she is sent to work in a Silk weaving factory in Ten Willows. There she finds a family and some happiness. She finds her destiny with a foreigner called Ben. I wont tell you much but suffice to say Li-xia’s story is the first half of the book and Sing’s, her daughters story is the second half of the book.
Some people might say this book is rambling and very detailed. But for someone like me it was the main reason why I loved this book. Miss Fai’s writing is brilliant and she manages to bring the Chinese countryside, the Silk Farm and Macau to life. It was fun to read about what Macau was like a few years back. I marked a lot of pages but for the sake of this review, I’ll post one here
“Gold can be found everywhere you look for it…sprinkled by sunlight on clear water…in the evening sky and the coming of each new dawn. It falls like scattered coins on the forest floor and gilds the leaf of every tree; glitters on every blade of grass after the rain and turns each dewdrop into a precious jewel. You will find gold in kindness; it can be found in the seeking of happiness and in helping others. Try to find your fortune among these things, collect what you can of these real gold, and one day you will be qian-jin.
(*qian-jin: means being compared to thousand pieces of gold).“
There are some drawbacks of course, but they are mainly with the scenes towards the end of the book which I’ll refrain from mentioning here.
I loved both Li-xia and Sing but I have to admit I have a special affinity for Sing just because of her trying childhood and the way she overcame all odds and still remained strong and pure.
It’s a book worth reading if you enjoy oriental books, love reading about the countryside, love reading epic stories and finally, love reading about strong women. This ones definitely going on my ‘one of the best reads‘ of 2013.
1. The summary on Goodreads spoils the plot. Miss it if you can.
2. The cover is gorgeous but unfortunately its the most mismatch cover ever. The story is about Chinese women set in China. However the girl on the cover is definitely not Chinese, neither is the farm picture at the bottom. It’s a clear case of designing for the sake of beauty and not as a reflection of the actual book. Since I’m a designer myself now, I find this very disappointing.
3. This book is also published with the name ‘The Concubines Daughter’ in the US.