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My Splendid Concubine Paperback – February 12, 2009

3.4 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews

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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.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Three Clover Press (February 12, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0981955304
  • ISBN-13: 978-0981955308
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #860,795 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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.
36 Comments 17 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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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.
6 Comments 36 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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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.
2 Comments 19 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Writing a book is hard. As a writer, I know how difficult it is to put the pen to paper and put what you have to say out there for the world to see and then be ripped apart. I try to be fair in my reviews and, even when they aren't very good, look for the positive and leave the choice of whether or not to read the book up to my readers. My reviews are my opinion - nothing more.

But sometimes, you come across a book that is so bad that it becomes a moral duty to spare others the pain of reading it. I really hate to go that far in a review, but this book is so bad I even feel bad for Lofthouse's wife. Let me explain.

My Splendid Concubine claims to be about how Robert Hart, one of the most important and influential Western men in Chinese history, kept his concubine, his one true love, a secret. As a customs officer in Ningpo, Hong Kong, and Guangzhou from 1854-1908, Robert Hart spent his life trying to keep the faltering Qing dynasty from going bankrupt. He was an Imperialist when most of the rest of the world wasn't (including most Chinese people). While the dynasty did fall in 1911, Hart was often referred to the only true Western friend of China. In short, Robert Hart is a fascinating individual who led an amazing life during one of the most dynamic times of Chinese history.

What the book is actually about, though, is the one year of Robert's life in China when he had two concubines - sisters. Which one is the splendid one? I have no idea.

Now, I have no problem with the book focusing on this one part of his long life. I like a good romance and to focus on the Victorian gentleman hiding away his secret Chinese lover sounded very exciting. The problem is the delivery. The book is extremely soft-core pornish.
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