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My Splendid Concubine Paperback – February 12, 2009
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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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Beautifully written. Enjoyed reading about Chinese history. Would highly recommend.Published 10 months ago by Terry McKeown
This is an interesting topic which ended up disappointing me. Fortunately I "purchased" this book for free in kindle edition format. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Chris Gregory
I ordered the free sample for my iPad, basically 290 pages. Glad I didn't buy the whole thing. The writing is so bad, with short, choppy sentences, and very little description. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Evelyn S. Lynn
Excellent but I didn't like the ending. Left you hanging. I felt my kindle must not have downloaded all the bookPublished on December 31, 2013 by Connie M.
I loved this book! It gave me an inside glimpse of China during that time period. Robert Hart was such an honest and genuine man and although he sometimes became too impulsive,... Read morePublished on November 29, 2013 by sso
This book was a disappointment to me. I enjoy historical novels and thought this would be a good read and I would learn something from it, as it is based on fact, but no. Read morePublished on November 17, 2013 by Amazon Customer
I read this book liking it and being bored with it have read a lot of this type of book and maybe over them but it was readablePublished on July 22, 2013 by Carolynne wallis