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Ratings and Reviews (2 17 star ratings
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    Money Tree

    Sai Jinhua was a real person, immortalised in Chinese poetry and tales as a heroine for changing times. Little is known of her actual life but some things are generally agreed upon - father killed during her formative years at decreee of the Emperor (probably the Dowager Empress Cixi as she wielded the power), sold by her father's first wife to a go-between who then sold her on to a brothel, sold from the brothel as a concubine which eventually leads her to Europe and back to Peking where she suffered through the Boxer rebellion and came out the other side. As little is known of her real life during and between these experiences Alexandra Curry has provided us with this fictionalised account. Not a bad book but not a great one either. I always enjoy reading about this particular era of Chinese history but only the fictionalised account. After reading Empress Orchid by Anchee Min it is always interesting to read accounts of the time from a "common" persons viewpoint. Especially as Dowager Empress Cixi is portrayed a vile harridan in most (and this is no exception) which is in direct conflict with Anchee Min's tale. There are some nice touches in this book. Particularly telling is Jinhua's father proclaiming that she will never have her feet bound (very progressive for the time and maybe it is ideals of this type that led to his execution) but the Eyebrow Lady who runs the Hall of Round Moon and Passionate Love has very different viewpoints. There is not much detail on the foot binding process which is a strangely interesting practice (if you want to know much more read Snow Flower And The Secret Fan by Lisa See). Much is made of bed business in this book and as this is a tale of first a Money Tree becoming a Courtesan and then a Money Tree owner herself this is to be expected. There is also a lot if information about daily habits and meals and also the general societal structure of China at this very unstable period in it's history. The way the country and it's populace were treated - particularly by European countries does appear to have been absolutely appalling. The telling is a little "dry" throughout and you never really get a sense of a real person inhabiting this tale. I did read it in two sittings and have given the tale some thought but I suspect had I not read a lot of historical fiction dealing with this period in time I would not have persevered with this book.
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    The courtesan

    At first i thought this novel was fact. However my preconception did not detract from my completing it. The story was enlighting about early concubine/courtesan life in china, which is difficult to relate to at times. I wonder how close to actuality it really was.

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