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My Splendid Concubine Paperback – February 12, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Three Clover Press (February 12, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780981955308
  • ISBN-13: 978-0981955308
  • ASIN: 0981955304
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,932,070 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Lloyd Lofthouse earned a BA in journalism after fighting in Vietnam as a U.S. Marine. While working days as an English teacher at a high school in California, he enjoyed a second job as a maitre d’ in a multimillion-dollar nightclub. He now lives near San Francisco with his wife, with a second home in Shanghai, China. Mr. Lofthouse may be contacted through www.mysplendidconcubine.com. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

More About the Author

Little did Lloyd Lofthouse know in 1999, when he married Anchee Min, that he was beginning a journey of discovery. His first trip to The Middle Kingdom was on the honeymoon with his bride, who introduced him to China and Robert Hart (1835-1911), the main characters in Lloyd's first two novels, My Splendid Concubine and Our Hart. The next decade was a journey of discovery. Lloyd now lives near San Francisco with his wife--with a second home in Shanghai, China.

Lloyd earned a BA in journalism in 1973 after fighting in Vietnam as a U.S. Marine. While working days as an English teacher, he enjoyed a second job as a maitre d' in a multimillion-dollar nightclub. His short story, A Night at the 'Well of Purity' was named as a finalist for the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards.



Customer Reviews

I feel as though the book ended abruptly.
Brantley
I'm glad I had not spent money on it, since it was a "free" download.
Georgia Reader
The dialogue was excellent and the characters full.
Colleen Rae

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 47 people found the following review helpful By KiKi D. on May 30, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Being of Chinese descent, I thought it would be interesting to read how a foreigner made such an impact on Chinese history. I really like to read historical fiction, but I was extremely disappointed in this book. The characters were more like caricatures than real flesh and blood people. The writing was very stilted and amateurish. There was a voyeuristic feel to this book with WAY too much emphasis on the sexual thoughts and activities of Robert Hart and not enough plot formation or information on his true contributions to Chinese society. It seemed as if the the author was exploiting the culture of China so that he could fantasize about chinese women. I honestly don't know how this book received so many 4- and 5-star reviews. I agree with another reviewer who said, "DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK!" I certainly won't be making the same mistake again by buying the sequel.
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47 of 57 people found the following review helpful By D. Salerni on March 31, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My Splendid Concubine is the story of Sir Robert Hart, a nineteenth century British consular and customs official who, over several decades, grew into a position of unprecedented respect and trust in China. The story opens in 1908 with the Empress Dowager granting an audience in the Forbidden City to an elderly Hart, Inspector General of Chinese Maritime Customs, but the novel is really about Hart's early days in China as a young interpreter.

Hart travels to China in 1854 seeking to redeem himself after a shameful episode of wenching and carousing at college that embarrassed his family. He first meets Sir John Bowring, Governor of Hong Kong, who advises him to study everything around him in an effort to understand the Chinese and learn something new everyday. This is the only advice of its kind he receives from his own people, for Hart discovers that the rest of the Westerners view the Chinese culture with disdain and superiority. His first employer, for example, chastises him for trying to learn Mandarin, saying, "It is their place to understand us. We don't have to understand them."

While most of the British and American officials dismiss the Chinese as superstitious heathens, there is one part of the Chinese culture they are quick to assimilate: the taking of concubines. Hart finds it repugnantly hypocritical that his fellow countrymen should hold so little respect for the culture while indulging their own desires in a manner that Victorian society would condemn. He notes that, "on one hand the Europeans and British were shoving Christianity's message of brotherly love down the Chinese collective throat with the barrel of a rifle. At the same time foreign merchants, mostly British, were selling opium to the populace.
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35 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Nicole Child on December 26, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book was horrible. I love historical fiction, but this seemed more of an excuse for musings on religion and soft-core porn; not a good combination. The writing was jumbled and repetitive and the story was never resolved. In the first twenty pages there were multiple references to the same incident (the dead babies in the water), which basically repeated the same information over and over again. It was frustrating that the writer didn't seem to trust the reader to remember details that occurred only pages before. Instead, he felt it was necessary to constantly repeat information that didn't add to the story at all. I wish I hadn't spent the $3.99 to buy this for my Kindle.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Darrell Peck on April 3, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After describing the great man that the hero of the book was, I was set up to believe I would learn about his contributions to China and learn more about his roll in Chinese history. Instead it turned into a trite and tirering porno story about his love for his two concubines he purchased and the constant threat of their being re-posessed by the bad man. - So disapointing.
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19 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 26, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
What could have been a really, really interesting story was completely drowned in premature ejaculation and the strange secondary theme of overcoming a religion-forbidden love for two women. I was bored silly and annoyed by how many times the story was interrupted by a sex scene.

I didn't even bother finishing the book, and frankly I'm annoyed at myself for buying the entire saga for my Kindle. If you are overcome by curiosity, check them out at the library so you don't feel like you've wasted your money on garbage.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Michael S Katz on May 2, 2008
Format: Paperback
Any time I read a book written by a first-time author, I worry that no matter how interesting the subject matter, the writing style will be so amateurish that it will turn me off immediately. I had these concerns with the first chapter of My Splendid Concubine, as the writing seemed very choppy. But once I got past the first chapter, the writing seemed to be coming from a completely different author. By the way, chapter one is a framing sequence which I didn't find to be particularly necessary, so don't worry if you pick the book up yourself. Read on, you won't be disappointed.

Lofthouse has crafted a story about an Irishman's attempts to understand the culture of China in the 19th century, framed in large part on the love affair between the main character and a Chinese concubine. Our hero must battle with his Catholic upbringing in order to first bring himself to admit his love for the woman, and then decide whether he can live in sin with her.

The story contains some scenes of action, and some scenes of sexual activity--not for the kids--but its most interesting aspects involve Chinese culture and the reasons behind how things were done back then. Explaining how fathers sell their children to feed the rest of the family, how rich men can simultaneously and openly have wives, concubines, and pillow-girls live in the same household, why young boys would willingly undergo castration so they can get a better job--these are just a few examples of the wealth of information contained in the book.

The main character, Robert Hart, was a real person--Inspector General for Chinese Maritime Customs--but it is not necessary to know anything about the man to enjoy the book.
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