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The Painter from Shanghai: A Novel Paperback – April 6, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Epstein's sweeping debut novel, set in early 20th-century China, fictionalizes the life of Chinese painter Pan Yuliang. Born Xiuquing, she is orphaned at a young age and later sold into prostitution by her uncle, who needs the money to support his opium habit. Renamed Yuliang, she becomes the brothel's top girl and soon snags the attention of customs inspector Pan Zanhua, who makes her his concubine. Zanhua sets her up in Shanghai, where she enrolls in the Shanghai Art Academy and early on struggles with life study, unable to separate the nude's monetary value from its value in the currency of beauty. She eventually succeeds, winning a scholarship to study in Europe. But when she returns to China, itself inching toward revolution, the conservative establishment is critical of Yuliang, balking as she adopts Western-style dress and becomes known for her nudes (one newspaper deems her work pornography). Simmering resentments hit a flashpoint at a disastrous Shanghai retrospective exhibit, and the fallout nearly destroys Yuliang's artistic ambition. Convincing historic detail is woven throughout and nicely captures the plight of women in the era. Epstein's take on Yuliang's life is captivating to the last line. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Engrossing. . . . Epstein’s spotless pace, vivid characterization and often-breathtaking descriptions elevate the novel above any initial similarities with Memoirs of a Geisha to become its own distinctive canvas.” (Chicago Tribune)
“Epstein’s harrowing―and historically accurate―details show that through darkness comes greatness.” (Marie Claire)
“Luminous . . . irresistible.” (New York Times Book Review)
“Starred Review. Convincing historic detail is woven throughout. . . . Captivating to the last line.” (Publishers Weekly)
“A sparkling debut . . . lush!” (Vogue)
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Top Customer Reviews
The first half of the book I could not put it down, I carried it with me everywhere. However, by the second half I began to lose interest in Pan Yuliang. Her character, which I was initially rooting for, started to waver and eventually fade for me. Perhaps this is just personal taste, but the book became too dramatic. Therefore, my feelings for it may be contradictory but if you are interested in reading it, I suggest going for it.
For every twenty or so books along comes ONE that holds you, fascinates you and gives you such pleasure you never want it to end.
The novel runs as smoothly as silk. The characters are so real I felt I knew them. The story of Pan Yuliang who lived in the time of war lords and Emporers, prior to Mao's China gives one an insite into China's pre revolution period, especially the cosmopolitan city of Shanghai.I have perused the internet for paintings by Pan Yuliang and as much as I am impressed by them, I can understand why they were so controversial in a conservative China on the eve of communism.
Brilliant research, brilliant topic, brilliant writing. Thankyou for the pleasure you have given me.
I was completely mesmerized by this book from beginning to end. Jennifer Cody Epstein is an incredible storyteller, and Yuliang is one of the most intriguing female literary characters I've come across in a long time. I really, really, REALLY hope this book is made into a movie...Hollywood, take notice!