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Publisher's Summary

In this lyrical reimagining of the Chinese classic Dream of the Red Chamber, set against the breathtaking backdrop of 18th-century Beijing, the lives of three unforgettable women collide in the inner chambers of the Jia mansion. When orphaned Daiyu leaves her home in the provinces to take shelter with her cousins in the Capital, she is drawn into a world of opulent splendor, presided over by the ruthless, scheming Xifeng and the prim, repressed Baochai. As she learns the secrets behind their glittering facades, she finds herself entangled in a web of intrigue and hidden passions, reaching from the petty gossip of the servants' quarters all the way to the Imperial Palace. When a political coup overthrows the emperor and plunges the once-mighty family into grinding poverty, each woman must choose between love and duty, friendship and survival.
In this dazzling debut, Pauline A. Chen draws the reader deep into the secret, exquisite world of the women's quarters of an aristocratic household, where the burnish of wealth and refinement mask a harsher truth: marriageable girls are traded like chattel for the family's advancement, and to choose to love is to risk everything.
©2012 Pauline A. Chen (P)2012 Random House Audio
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Critic Reviews

"Pauline Chen's boldly imagined retelling of The Dream of the Red Chamber is a literary wonder. An epic yet intimate account of palace intrigue and political tumult that dazzles on every page. Heartbreaking, exhilarating, and impossible to put down." (Julie Otsuka, author of The Buddha in the Attic)
"Rarely does a cast of beloved literary figures from another culture and time come alive on the pages of a modern writer's work. Pauline Chen has reimagined the characters from my very favorite novel to make a compelling new version of China's great literary masterpiece. I highly recommend The Red Chamber. It will transport you into an altogether new world." (Arthur Golden, author of Memoirs of a Geisha )
"In Pauline Chen's transporting interpretation of the Chinese classic The Dream of the Red Chamber, the byzantine machinations and behind-the-screen politics of the Jia family are so skillfully rendered as to bring to mind a delicate ink painting suddenly and vividly brought to life. A remarkable achievement." (Janice Lee, author of The Piano Teacher)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Robin on 05-12-13

excellent story, of chinese origin

as i understand it, this is an interpretation of a classic chinese story. although some take issue with the accuracy of the translation/depiction, for those of us who are not as well versed, this is simply a beautiful story ... exotic and far removed from modern life. i give this book 5 stars.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful


By Patti on 07-18-14

Good Story

If you like ancient Chinese literature, this is a book for you. Despite the difficulty of strange names, it is easy to follow the players. Three young women's lives come together by way of family connections. Times go from plenty to poverty. The women have no power yet they are the ones to strategize their survival. Narration is well done.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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