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My Splendid Concubine by [Lofthouse, Lloyd]
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My Splendid Concubine Kindle Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 291 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


My Splendid Concubine

- 3rd edition -
(formerly The Concubine Saga)

Honorable Mentions in General Fiction
2012 San Francisco Book Festival
2012 New York Book Festival

2012 London Book Festival
"Drawing on heavily researched passages with great dramatization, The Concubine Saga is a strong pick for historical fiction collections, highly recommended." - The Midwest Book Review, July 2012
Our Hart, Elegy for a Concubine, the sequel to
2nd edition of My Splendid Concubine

"Our Hart is a unique and entertaining read, recommended."
- Midwest Book Review, April 2010
"Fine and tightly controlled Novel" - Historical Fiction Society, May 2010
"Political intrigue and matters of the heart are both fully explored. ... readers who enjoy vicariously experiencing other times and cultures will find Our Hart a fascinating journey." - Commentary of a Writer's Digest judge, April 2011
2nd edition of My Splendid Concubine
"A powerful novel whose beauty exceeds that of the book's cover."
- Commentary of Writer's Digest judge, April 2009

1st edition of My Splendid Concubine
"Packed cover to cover with intriguing characters and plot, a must read for history fans and a fine addition to any collection on the genre." - Midwest Book Review, May 8, 2008
"A stunning work that enmeshes imperialism, modernity, miscegenation and plain old desire in a sweaty matrix of destruction and painful birth." - City Weekend Magazine, May 8, 2008
"Those who are interested in unconventional romances with an out-of-the ordinary setting will find plenty to enjoy." - Historical Novel Society, May 2008

About the Author

Lloyd Lofthouse is the author of the award winning novels My Splendid Concubine and Running with the Enemy. His short story, A Night at the Well of Purity was named a finalist in the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards.

His wife is Anchee Min, the author of Red Azalea (1992), a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Her novel the Empress Orchid (2004) was a finalist for the British Book Awards and her memoir, The Cooked Seed, was chosen by Amazon editors as one of the best books of 2013.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1804 KB
  • Print Length: 641 pages
  • Publisher: Three Clover Press; 3rd edition edition (April 1, 2013)
  • Publication Date: April 1, 2013
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00578UNLG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #328,740 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
The Concubine Saga is a fictional of account of a real person, Robert Hart. He was was a British consular official in China, who served as the second Inspector General of China's Imperial Maritime Custom Service from 1863 to 1911. He was born in Ireland but left in disgrace as a young man. He evidently was a very sexual young man and was unable to control his desires, according to his religious upbringing he went to China after he was awarded the position of student interpreter in the China consular service. Not long after he arrived he met the woman, Ayaou who was to become his concubine and with whom he would have three children. According to this story he also had Ayaou's sister come into the household as he didn't want her to be sold to cruel people and he had feelings for her also even though he was in love with Ayaou. Because of Robert's ability to handle delicate negotiations with the Chinese, he was able to move up the ranks to become a respectable and trusted man in China. In his personal life he was still at odds with his religion and his lifestyle as having concubines was not accepted in polite society.

To further his understanding of the Chinese he learned "how to think like a Chinese" and learn all that he could learn about his adopted country and their customs and languages. This all helped him and because of his diplomatic skills he was able to work effectively with the Chinese and be the go between, if you will, for China and China's trading deals with other countries such as America, France and Germany. He was also very instrumental in establishing custom houses, railroads and various other programs to aid the Chinese. Because of his communication skills, patience, good judgement and good relations with the Chinese he earned himself the nickname of "our Hart".
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This book is very well-written, and tackles an interesting topic. It also has more eroticism in it than I expected. I guess given that it's about concubines, I shouldn't have been surprised there were erotic scenes (which were well-written, I might add), but ...

I can only give it three stars though, because I lost interest about halfway through the book. I think there were two reasons for that: One, the author started talking quite a bit about Chinese literature, poetry and philosophy - all of which is quite deep, complex and difficult to understand (especially for a Westerner). I found it boring.

The second reason is that I just didn't connect emotionally with the characters - and when one of them died, I found that I kinda didn't care. So when the author went on and on for several chapters about what a devastating loss this death was for the remaining characters, I understood that I REALLY wasn't connecting with them, because I wanted him to get on with the rest of the story already. Maybe it's because these characters' way of life is SO different from anything I've experienced or can relate to? But even so, the author should have been able to draw out their essential humanity, that would cause me as a reader to care about them.

Too bad, cuz as I said I was enjoying it initially.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Mr. Lofthouse is a brilliant author who makes China come alive to the reader. I was simply swept away through the eyes of Robert Hart as he experienced all the nuances of China and its people and customs for the first time.

The romance of Robert and Ayaou is gorgeously written in all aspects. Just a beautiful rendering of an epic love story. There is passion between them, as well as between her sister/concubine and Robert. Two women in one house...the Chinese symbol for trouble! The erotic elements are handled with delicacy, and are quite enjoyable to read, adding a depth to his exploration of the concubine's role in China.

And I found myself wanting to carry this book around with me to sneak another page of reading in wherever I's that engaging.

Lofthouse has a firm grasp on characterization. His studies of people, relationships and their actions and reactions are so in perfect pitch that there can be no question they existed. They feel alive. I fell in love with several of them. It was difficult when the novel ended.

This is a book for those who love reading about the Orient, but it's also for those who simply love a good historical fiction novel. It's lush in details of Chinese culture. It's a wonderful read. Like the beautifully stitched quilt on the book's cover, this novel is delicately woven and created using choice selections of all sorts. It will keep you wanting more from the author...not wanting the book to end.
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I read the reviews and they bagged it. They also said it was salacious. Well, OK, it wasn't a masterpiece of style, and there was a bit of sexy cut and thrust but - hey - it kept me going. It was a great story, made all the better by being historically true. I know historical novels have to fictionalise somewhat, but it worked for me. For me it was a real page turner. And I learned something about Chinese history. Thanks Lloyd.
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My Splendid Concubine fictionalizes the fascinating story of Robert Hart, a initially ordinary man who became possibly the most important British man in the political and economic history of China. Starting out as a lowly interpreter, he rose to become the head of customs for the Qing dynasty and an influential advisor to the Chinese rulers trying to keep the tottering dynasty from collapsing. Hart was also a man of strong sexual appetites who had both Chinese concubines and, later, a British wife. It is a compelling story that kept me reading despite the awkward writing, puzzling plotting and clumsy pacing of My Splendid Concubine.

I don't know enough about Hart's life to determine whether the various villains plotting against Hart were actual historical figures or not. However, since this is a novelization rather than a history, the repetitious plots and mysterious plotters trying to kill Hart and his concubines should have been streamlined into a better storyline.

The depiction of the love/lust between Hart and his concubines - two sisters -- also seems repetitive and his agonizing over the morality of his domestic arrangements always leads back to bedding his concubines. The sex is awkwardly, but frequently described. Hart's moralizing interior dialog over his ownership of two Chinese women is just as repetitive. The author seems both appalled by his hero's lust and compelled to describe it over and over again. This lust, often base in nature and almost entirely concerned with a woman's physical attributes, contrasts oddly with Hart's high-minded enthusiasm for Chinese classical literature.
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