Hot Best Seller

China: The Novel

Availability: Ready to download
 

The internationally bestselling author of Paris and New York takes on an exhilarating new world with his trademark epic style in China: The Novel Edward Rutherfurd has enthralled millions of readers with his grand, sweeping historical sagas that tell the history of a famous place over multiple generations. Now, in China: The Novel, Rutherfurd takes readers into the rich The internationally bestselling author of Paris and New York takes on an exhilarating new world with his trademark epic style in China: The Novel Edward Rutherfurd has enthralled millions of readers with his grand, sweeping historical sagas that tell the history of a famous place over multiple generations. Now, in China: The Novel, Rutherfurd takes readers into the rich and fascinating milieu of the Middle Kingdom.. The story begins in 1839, at the dawn of the First Opium War, and follows Chinese history through Mao's Cultural Revolution and up to the present day. Rutherfurd chronicles the rising and falling fortunes of members of Chinese, British, and American families, as they negotiate the tides of history. Along the way, in his signature style, Rutherfurd provides a deeply researched portrait of Chinese history and society, its ancient traditions and great upheavals, and China's emergence as a rising global power. As always, we are treated to romance and adventure, heroines and scoundrels, grinding struggle and incredible fortunes. China: The Novel brings to life the rich terrain of this vast and constantly evolving country. From Shanghai to Nanking to the Great Wall, Rutherfurd chronicles the turbulent rise and fall of empires as the colonial West meets the opulent and complex East in a dramatic struggle between cultures and people. Extraordinarily researched and majestically told, Edward Rutherfurd paints a thrilling portrait of one of the most singular and remarkable countries in the world.


Compare

The internationally bestselling author of Paris and New York takes on an exhilarating new world with his trademark epic style in China: The Novel Edward Rutherfurd has enthralled millions of readers with his grand, sweeping historical sagas that tell the history of a famous place over multiple generations. Now, in China: The Novel, Rutherfurd takes readers into the rich The internationally bestselling author of Paris and New York takes on an exhilarating new world with his trademark epic style in China: The Novel Edward Rutherfurd has enthralled millions of readers with his grand, sweeping historical sagas that tell the history of a famous place over multiple generations. Now, in China: The Novel, Rutherfurd takes readers into the rich and fascinating milieu of the Middle Kingdom.. The story begins in 1839, at the dawn of the First Opium War, and follows Chinese history through Mao's Cultural Revolution and up to the present day. Rutherfurd chronicles the rising and falling fortunes of members of Chinese, British, and American families, as they negotiate the tides of history. Along the way, in his signature style, Rutherfurd provides a deeply researched portrait of Chinese history and society, its ancient traditions and great upheavals, and China's emergence as a rising global power. As always, we are treated to romance and adventure, heroines and scoundrels, grinding struggle and incredible fortunes. China: The Novel brings to life the rich terrain of this vast and constantly evolving country. From Shanghai to Nanking to the Great Wall, Rutherfurd chronicles the turbulent rise and fall of empires as the colonial West meets the opulent and complex East in a dramatic struggle between cultures and people. Extraordinarily researched and majestically told, Edward Rutherfurd paints a thrilling portrait of one of the most singular and remarkable countries in the world.

30 review for China: The Novel

  1. 5 out of 5

    Em Lost In Books

    What an emotive and informative tale of China and its people in 18th Century. Constant attacks by British, the opium trade effect, internal strife in royal court are described in detail. And the characters through which all this was told were also well coined. For someone who don't know much about China's history, this was an enlightening and a satisfying journey. What an emotive and informative tale of China and its people in 18th Century. Constant attacks by British, the opium trade effect, internal strife in royal court are described in detail. And the characters through which all this was told were also well coined. For someone who don't know much about China's history, this was an enlightening and a satisfying journey.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Blaine DeSantis

    I anxiously awaited this new novel by one of the best current historical fiction authors, and while it did not disappoint me, it did not quite hit the 5***** book that I had hoped. When dealing with China, we are talking about a country that has such a long history that Rutherfurd needed to find a memorable period upon which to focus. Here we begin with the run-up to the two Opium Wars and get as far as the Boxer Rebellion, while in between there is the Taiping Rebellion. It is an eventful perio I anxiously awaited this new novel by one of the best current historical fiction authors, and while it did not disappoint me, it did not quite hit the 5***** book that I had hoped. When dealing with China, we are talking about a country that has such a long history that Rutherfurd needed to find a memorable period upon which to focus. Here we begin with the run-up to the two Opium Wars and get as far as the Boxer Rebellion, while in between there is the Taiping Rebellion. It is an eventful period and Rutherfurd does a really good job of detailing this historical era. The history is spot on, and I learned so much about these conflicts which I had heard of but never truly understood. As with all of his books, China features multiple characters and follows them through these turbulent times. We have opium traders, British diplomats, Chinese pirates, dowagers, emperors and eunuchs! Quite a diverse group to follow and on the whole these characters do a wonderful job in both interacting together, as well as being part of these historic times. Well written and superbly researched, this book does check off many of the boxes that I had expected, yet in many ways it falls flat. Why would that be? Well, while I do not like to have books wrapped up in a nice neat package, I do like to finish characters storylines, and too many of these characters are just left hanging. We are only dealing with a 60 year timeline and there really is no reason not to finish off these stories. A few do get completed but there are many that are left dangling, and then halfway through the book he introduces a new major character whose story as a eunuch in the Emperors Court dominated the last half of the book and many of the original characters merely seem to disappear. Call me picky, but I just felt a little bit disappointed after such a long wait since his book Paris. Very good, not great, and certainly not like Michener who reigns supreme in my ranking of historical fiction authors.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jenn

    This author does not disappoint! Mr. Rutherford thank you so much for the enjoyment!!!!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    At 764 pages, woo!, China is a big book. It is the first book I’ve read by Edward Rutherfurd, known for writing epic tomes about significant places and times in history, across generations. Set during the Opium Wars, and with his panning of characters on all sides of the issue, I learned so much about the perspectives of those involved. It was also a deep dive into culture in China, Great Britain, and the world at this significant time. There is a strong sense of adventure and even a touch of rom At 764 pages, woo!, China is a big book. It is the first book I’ve read by Edward Rutherfurd, known for writing epic tomes about significant places and times in history, across generations. Set during the Opium Wars, and with his panning of characters on all sides of the issue, I learned so much about the perspectives of those involved. It was also a deep dive into culture in China, Great Britain, and the world at this significant time. There is a strong sense of adventure and even a touch of romance and drama to this story. I’ll never forget Mei-Lhing, Trader, and a eunuch named Lacquer Nail. Overall, Rutherfurd is adept at presenting well-researched history from all sides in an approachable, highly readable way. I can’t imagine how much time it took to plan this saga and tie these story threads together. I read China with my dear friend, Beth, and I’m so grateful we read this together so we could discuss how much we’d learned. It sparked our interest to read additional books set in China, both fiction and nonfiction. I received a gifted copy. Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com and instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lorna

    China: The Novel is the latest historical fiction novel by Edward Rutherfurd and what a magnificent book it is. We were able to take a trip of a lifetime a few years ago spending a month in China and Tibet and including Hong Kong and Guilin. Those unforgettable experiences gave me a richer context to draw upon as I read this grand and sweeping historical saga beginning in 1839 at the dawn of the first Opium War and through the Taiping revolt, the burning of the Summer Palace, the Boxer Rebellion China: The Novel is the latest historical fiction novel by Edward Rutherfurd and what a magnificent book it is. We were able to take a trip of a lifetime a few years ago spending a month in China and Tibet and including Hong Kong and Guilin. Those unforgettable experiences gave me a richer context to draw upon as I read this grand and sweeping historical saga beginning in 1839 at the dawn of the first Opium War and through the Taiping revolt, the burning of the Summer Palace, the Boxer Rebellion and the rule of Empress Cixi, culminating in the revolution of 1911 with the beginnings of modern China. In this epic saga, we experience the rising and falling of fortunes of the many characters that give this book its heart, namely, the Chinese, British and American families that we come to know over this volatile period of time in China's history. This deeply researched narrative is buttressed by thousands of years of Chinese history. But after less than a century, a native Han dynasty, the shining Ming, had managed to kick the Mongols out and strengthen the Great Wall to deter other invaders. They'd kept Kubla Khan's capital, however. And for three centuries the Ming had ruled China. It had been a golden age. Literatue and the arts had thrived." "The huge outer wall before him ran four miles across, from east to west, with a mighty gatehouse in the center. Inside the wall, on the right, raised above the surrounding world on a great mound, he could see the drumlike pagoda at the Temple of Heaven, before which the emperor performed the ancient ceremonies to ask the gods for good harvests, its three tiers of blue-tiled roofs turning to indigo nder the reddening embers of the clouds." "And I must say that the highlight of this awesome and memorable trip was our time in Tibet. As we were flying over the Tibetan peaks, including Mount Everest, we were enthralled with our incomparable journey. Tibet was a pristene oasis in the vast country of China and fighting for their independence. When we landed in Lhasa, it was magical. Literally Lhasa translates to 'place of gods.' And that it was. We trekked up all of the 432 steps to the Potala Palace that was the winter palace of the Dalai Lamas from 1649 to 1959. It was an indescribable experience. "It was more than a thousand miles to the great Tibetan Plateau, the vast rooftop of the world, fringed by the Himalayas, over which the sun seemed to be hovering at this moment. One was nearer to the eternal blue Heaven up there, he supposed, than anywhere on Earth. From those celestial heights came the greatest rivers of Asia: the Ganges, Indus, Irrawaddy, Brahnaputtra, and Mekong, all flowing to the south; and flowing eastward, the two mighty rivers of China--the Yangtze, making its stupendous loop down through the valleys and rice fields of southern China, and the Yellow River, moving like a huge serpent across the grain-planted plains of the center and north." With such a whirlwind trip packed into four short weeks, the cities that are vivid in our memories include Beijing and Shanghai, but one of the most beautiful places was Guilin, a truly enchanting experience. "Mei-Ling liked Guilin. . . . The place was quite remarkable. Millenia of rains and flowing waters had sculpted the soft karst stone of the region into a landscape of miniature mountains, steep as anthills, hundreds of feet high and covered with green trees, except for the grey cliffs on their sides, here and there, where even mountain trees couldn't find their footing. A pleasant river, called the Li, flowed beside the town." "On sunny days the hills gathered around the intimate plateaus of pastures and rice fields, like giant green dolmans protecting a sanctuary. But when the mists filled the river valleys, then the onlooker seemed to be witnessing an army of hooded gods moving slowly through a world of clouds."

  6. 5 out of 5

    Steven Z.

    For years I read the panoramic novels of James A. Michener. His multi-generational plots, historical knowledge, all-encompassing detail, and character development were very satisfying, and I always looked forward to his latest release. When he passed a void resulted in my reading agenda until I discovered Edward Rutherfurd. In 1987 I read Rutherfurd’s first novel, SARUM which immediately sparked my interest because of his approach to writing, history, lineage of different generations, and an ass For years I read the panoramic novels of James A. Michener. His multi-generational plots, historical knowledge, all-encompassing detail, and character development were very satisfying, and I always looked forward to his latest release. When he passed a void resulted in my reading agenda until I discovered Edward Rutherfurd. In 1987 I read Rutherfurd’s first novel, SARUM which immediately sparked my interest because of his approach to writing, history, lineage of different generations, and an assortment of interesting and fascinating characters. I dare say he was “Micheneresque!” Other novels soon followed; RUSSKA, LONDON, THE FOREST, THE PRINCES OF IRELAND, THE REBELS OF IRELAND, NEW YORK, and PARIS – all very satisfying and engrossing living up to the bar he set with his first novel. I was looking forward to his next effort which was published last week, CHINA: THE NOVEL. The novel does not present the scope and panorama of his earlier works, and there are a few questions about organization, but it still was a satisfying read. The novel begins with events leading to the 1839 Opium War between England and the “Middle Kingdom” and carries the reader through Chinese history beginning with the Opium Wars, the Taiping Rebellion, the Boxer Rebellion, and finally the 1911 Revolution. Through its characters Rutherfurd tries to present each event and different attempts at reform that sought to throw off the western imperialist yoke. Over time these occurrences would lay the groundwork for the rise of Mao Zedong and the Chinese Communist Party which emerged after World War I, consolidated its support among the peasants in the 1930s and during World War II, and finally defeated the Guomintang (Nationalist Party) in 1949 and began the Maoist rule over China which dominated the former “Celestial Kingdom” until the early 1980s. The book seems to be organized in two parts, the first centers around the opium trade and a series of characters from British merchants, Chinese traders, government officials, and a number of ancillary families. The second part focuses on the life of one individual in particular, Lacquer Nail whose character is somewhat contrived and how the Chinese government tried to defeat the foreign imperialists, but to no avail. Rutherdurd does a credible job integrating true historical figures with fictional characters. At the outset, the key historical figure that is portrayed accurately is Lin Zexu, who was a Chinese head of states (Viceroy), Governor General, scholar-official, and High Commissioner who was charged by the emperor to rid the country of the opium trade that was bankrupting the kingdom because of the outflow of silver to pay for the opium. The next important character is fictional, Jiang Shi-Rong who rose to become Commissioner Lin’s personal secretary. From the outset of the novel, it is clear that Rutherfurd has done his homework as he exhibits a firm grasp of Chinese history and culture. His explanation of the reasons for and the impact of foot binding on women is engrossing as is his description of the Forbidden City, the metropolitan exams to become a scholar-official, the language employed by Chinese officials, the differences between Han and Manchu Chinese, the dichotomy between northern and southern China, as is the presentation of historical figures like James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin, the weakness of the Xian Feng Emperor, Prince Gong, regent from 1861-1865, the Empress Cixi, Lin Zexu, Edmund Backhouse, a British oriental scholar and linguist among others. Fictional characters abound with the key figures including John Trader, a British merchant who engages in the Opium trade as a means of impressing Agnes Lomond in Calcutta; Cecil Whiteparish, Trader’s cousin and missionary; Mei-Ling a Chinese woman who provides a window into the misogyny of Chinese culture; Nio, Mei-Ling’s “brother” who is a pirate and eventually joins the Taiping movement to overthrow the Emperor; Guanji, a Manchu officer; the Odstock brothers who lived off the opium trade; and Mr. Liu who is bent on destroying Lacquer Nail. Rutherfurd navigates the different factions within the Chinese government and the disagreements and friction among the characters very nicely. A case in point is the Eunuch system and what one went through to become one and how they achieved wealth and power in the Forbidden City in dealing with the Emperor. Rutherfurd is able to develop a number of stories within the larger story of the novel very carefully. Chief among them revolves around the Taiping Rebellion, an uprising commanded by Hong Xiuquan, the self-proclaimed brother of Jesus Christ. Its goals were religious, nationalist, and political in nature; Hong sought the conversion of the Chinese people to the Taiping's syncretic version of Christianity, to overthrow the ruling Qing Dynasty, and a state transformation. At times it appeared that the British might ally with the Taiping’s in order to secure the opium trade and other commodities like tea. The overall theme of the novel is the history of China between 1839 and 1911 that was dominated by British imperialism, later joined by other European powers and the United States. As Rutherfurd develops the novel he integrates other important historical information germane to his topic, i.e., the recruitment of Chinese labor to work on the railroads in the United States, the politics of the British parliament, events in India, among others. If one is conversant in Chinese history during this period, you will be able to relate to what is evolving. If not Rutherfurd clearly presents the rhythms of the Chinese approach to life and how it conflicted with western expectations and why conflict was inevitable. Cultural superiority is a dominant theme as the Chinese saw the west as barbarians who were inferior to the Confucian way of life, and western lack of respect for Chinese culture seeing the Chinese people as animals in many cases. The causes and results of the two Opium Wars are reviewed and their effect on Chinese society and politics stand out. Rutherfurd spends a great deal of time on the Taiping Rebellion which many historians see as laying the groundwork for Maoist thought with their agrarian reform ideas, however over 40 million Chinese would die during the conflict. The author also takes a deep dive through his characters as the Chinese try to reform themselves after the Taiping Rebellion with the rise of the Empress Cixi but to no avail. The Boxer Rebellion becomes front and center at the turn of the 2oth century as does the rise of Sun Yat-Sen and his ideas that resulted in the 1911 Revolution that followed the death of the Empress Cixi. The earlier sections of the novel are much more engaging because of its focus on the Chinese family apart from the opium trade. The later sections of the novel are exhausting with its focus on court life and attempts to deal with the west. From the title of the book, one would hope its focus would be more on the Chinese people themselves without providing such a prominent occidental slant. The book at times can be unwieldly, but slowly it will captivate you and make you want to complete its 763 pages. Rutherfurd will lay out the difference between eastern and western culture and one might question the goals and complexities of each. Though I do not think the book flows as evenly as previous Rutherfurd novels, the book provides an education in of itself through its historical and myriad fictional characters and is worth the read. ***************************************************************************** If you have found the events and personalities presented in the book interesting, I would recommend the following: THE BOXER REBELLION by Diana Preston; AUTUMN IN THE HEAVENLY KINGDOM by Stephen R. Platt; IMPERIAL TWILIGHT: THE OPIUM WAR AND THE END OF CHINA’S LAST GOLDEN AGE by Stephen R. Platt; EMPRESS DOWAGER CIXI by Jung Chang; GOD’S CHINESE SON by Jonathan Spence or any other books on Chinese history written by Spence.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lou

    Having enthralled millions of readers with his grand, sweeping historical sagas that tell the history of a famous place over multiple generations, Rutherfurd has excelled once again. Now, in China: The Novel, he takes readers into the rich and fascinating milieu of the Middle Kingdom. This seventy-year family saga starts in the nineteenth century, during the reign of Britain’s Queen Victoria. Through the human stories of British, American and Chinese families, the novel tells the sweeping and dr Having enthralled millions of readers with his grand, sweeping historical sagas that tell the history of a famous place over multiple generations, Rutherfurd has excelled once again. Now, in China: The Novel, he takes readers into the rich and fascinating milieu of the Middle Kingdom. This seventy-year family saga starts in the nineteenth century, during the reign of Britain’s Queen Victoria. Through the human stories of British, American and Chinese families, the novel tells the sweeping and dramatic tale of how the West met the exotic Empire of China and humiliated her. The history it relates led directly to the tragic events of the twentieth century and the attitude of China towards the rest of the world today. Nineteenth-Century China was a proud and ancient empire, ruled by the Manchu and forbidden to foreigners. The West, and Britain in particular, had an unquenchable appetite for Chinese tea, but lacked the silver to buy it. So western merchant adventurers resorted to smuggling in opium in exchange. The Chinese Emperor, determined to prevent his people from sinking into addiction, sent the incorruptible Viceroy Lin to Canton, the main hub of the opium trade, to stop it. The British sent gunboats, and the Opium Wars began - heralding a period of bloody military defeats, reparations, and one-sided treaties which became known in China as the Century of Humiliation. From Hong Kong to Beijing to the Great Wall, from the exotic wonders of the Summer Palace and the Forbidden City, to squalid village huts, the dramatic struggle rages across the Celestial Kingdom. This is the story of the Chinese people, high and low, and the Westerners who came to exploit the riches of their ancient land and culture. We meet a young village wife struggling with the rigid traditions of her people, Manchu empresses and warriors, powerful eunuchs. There are fanatical Taiping and Boxer Rebels, savvy Chinese pirates, artists, concubines, scoundrels and heroes, well-intentioned missionaries and the rapacious merchants, diplomats and soldiers of the West. It tells the tale of this mighty clash of world views, of mutual misunderstanding, of fortunes gained, battles fought and love lost, as humanly and honestly as it could be portrayed, as seen from both sides of the divide. I found myself fascinated, made wiser and often moved, and it's immediately clear that Rutherfurd has carried out extensive research in order to provide the intricate detail filling these pages. An intriguing, captivating and eminently readable historical epic, China flows like a thriller and shows us the country in days long befallen to the passage of time and is accurate, exciting and richly immersive. Highly recommended.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lewis Weinstein

    long, long, long ... and frequently boring ... occasional scenes are quite good but there are not enough of these ... nothing gripping to carry me through 700+ pages

  9. 4 out of 5

    M.M. Strawberry Library & Reviews

    After having read, and immensely enjoyed many of Rutherfurd's other books, I am absolutely stoked to see what he will do with this novel, as I absolutely love his writing style and am eager to see how he illustrates Asian/Chinese history. BRING IT ON. After having read, and immensely enjoyed many of Rutherfurd's other books, I am absolutely stoked to see what he will do with this novel, as I absolutely love his writing style and am eager to see how he illustrates Asian/Chinese history. BRING IT ON.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Em*bedded-in-books*

    My first Rutherfurd, and it was a magnificent read. Learnt much about 19th century China, its relationships with other countries, the various factions and its rulers, all through a fictious tale. Would love to explore other places via this author.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer (JC-S)

    ‘You must always remember that the emperor of China sits at the centre of the world, and he rules by the Mandate of Heaven.’ The novel opens in 1839, at the beginning of the First Opium War between the Qing (Manchu) Dynasty and the west and unfolds over the remainder of the Qing Dynasty, closing with mention of Dr Sun Yat-sen, General Yuan and Edmund Backhouse in the early twentieth century. We follow the fortunes of members of different Chinese, British and American families over this period. I w ‘You must always remember that the emperor of China sits at the centre of the world, and he rules by the Mandate of Heaven.’ The novel opens in 1839, at the beginning of the First Opium War between the Qing (Manchu) Dynasty and the west and unfolds over the remainder of the Qing Dynasty, closing with mention of Dr Sun Yat-sen, General Yuan and Edmund Backhouse in the early twentieth century. We follow the fortunes of members of different Chinese, British and American families over this period. I was particularly interested in Mr Rutherford’s depiction of various Chinese: from the Confucian principles outlined (if not always followed) by the Mandarins; of the differences between the Han Chinese and the Manchu; and of the customs described. While this novel is against the background of only a small period of Chinese history, Mr Rutherfurd’s characters reflect the conflict between the values of the Middle Kingdom and western imperialism. While I think Mr Rutherfurd depicts them accurately, I am less sympathetic to the western characters, especially the opportunistic traders and missionaries. For me, most of the characters were less important than the story they were part of. They each served to highlight a particular part of history, to present a viewpoint consistent with the position occupied. I especially liked the eunuch Lacquer Nail’s description of the Empress Dowager Cixi’s reign, and I also enjoyed the stories of Shi-Rong (a young Mandarin at the beginning of the novel) and Mei-Ling (from a village near Guangzhou). While I was hoping for a novel set in China before the impact of western imperialism, I quickly fell into the rhythm of this novel and enjoyed it. Chinese history is fascinating, and Mr Rutherfurd brings this particular period to life. ‘China’s history is long. The pattern takes new forms, but in essence it is always the same. A dynasty slowly degenerates. Outsiders encroach. Insiders rebel. The Mandate of Heaven is withdrawn. The dynasty falls. A period of chaos and warlords follows. Finally order is restored by a new dynasty, usually from within. The old empire rises again for a few more centuries.’ I would recommend this novel to anyone interested in China. Jennifer Cameron-Smith

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sally Kanan

    have read several books by Edward Rutherfurd and liked all of them. This book, like the others, gives you a lesson in history but in fiction form. This book is a history of China from the Opium Wars up to and including the Boxer Uprising - a period of roughly 70 years. The author follows several fictitious families, both Chinese and British, throughout this period. It charts the ever changing relationships between both the people and the governments. The more I read, the more I was drawn into th have read several books by Edward Rutherfurd and liked all of them. This book, like the others, gives you a lesson in history but in fiction form. This book is a history of China from the Opium Wars up to and including the Boxer Uprising - a period of roughly 70 years. The author follows several fictitious families, both Chinese and British, throughout this period. It charts the ever changing relationships between both the people and the governments. The more I read, the more I was drawn into the book. I had heard about both the Opium Wars and the Boxer Uprisings, but I didn't know Britain's part in these events, or the changes they instigated. The characters came alive to me - some more than others, I would love a sequel following the same families, but depicting the period from the end of the Boxer Uprising to the present day. This book is not for somebody who likes to dip in and out of a book. It is a very large book, and needs some concentration. Personally, the more I read, the more I wanted to read - when I finished it, I had enjoyed it so much, it took a few days before I felt that I could leave this behind and start a new book. If you enjoy sagas and also enjoy learning about history without being bored with non-fiction books, this is highly recommended. After a couple of 'chick=lit" books, I intend to re=read the rest of Edward Rutherfurd books.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Paula

    Outstanding

  14. 4 out of 5

    A Man Called Ove

    Set in 19th century China, this is the ideal historical fiction - lucid, detailed and engrossing. It picks off from the first Opium War and ends with the Boxer rebellion. On the way, we follow events intertwined around the lives of a few characters - Chinese and foreign. The author stays largely non-judgemental and the book is a fine example of “show not tell” and that too from multiple POVs. And unlike other Rutherfurd novels, there is a greater continuity as the time period covered is short. Ch Set in 19th century China, this is the ideal historical fiction - lucid, detailed and engrossing. It picks off from the first Opium War and ends with the Boxer rebellion. On the way, we follow events intertwined around the lives of a few characters - Chinese and foreign. The author stays largely non-judgemental and the book is a fine example of “show not tell” and that too from multiple POVs. And unlike other Rutherfurd novels, there is a greater continuity as the time period covered is short. China - One sixth of the earth’s population and the second superpower currently. And to think I had not read any fiction - crime,historical or contemporary set in China. And was intimidated by histories such as “China” by John Keay. Even though I loved Keay’s books on Indian history earlier. May now pick it up soon. Finally, the finest historical fiction I have read so far is “Sea of Poppies” by Amitav Ghosh. The greatest compliment I can pay Rutherfurd is that he reminded me of Ghosh all the way !

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jodie

    Really a 3.5 star. A change of style which focussed mainly on one generation and the Opium Wars. Like many I was expecting the story of China over a thousand years or so and found the story dragging at times and a couple of characters that were not that interesting.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mary Ann

    I've been waiting eight years for a new Rutherfurd! I have the hardcover to take it's place on the shelf with the first eight I've bought since 1987 as well as the Kindle edition so I can put it in my purse. 05/20/2021 Review to follow. I finished it in the wee hours of this morning and need to think about it. 05/23/2021 There is no question that Rutherfurd is a wonderful storyteller and thoroughly accurate and painstaking researcher of history. I certainly enjoyed this very much. Unlike his first I've been waiting eight years for a new Rutherfurd! I have the hardcover to take it's place on the shelf with the first eight I've bought since 1987 as well as the Kindle edition so I can put it in my purse. 05/20/2021 Review to follow. I finished it in the wee hours of this morning and need to think about it. 05/23/2021 There is no question that Rutherfurd is a wonderful storyteller and thoroughly accurate and painstaking researcher of history. I certainly enjoyed this very much. Unlike his first works (Sarum: The Novel of England, London, Russka: The Novel of Russia, The Princes of Ireland, and The Rebels of Ireland, all of which begin with a vast and expansive panorama of geology, natural sciences, and history from pre-human to contemporary time, China: The Novel, like Paris and New York, is set in a much briefer time period, in this case, it is bookmarked by by the Opium War and the Boxer Rebellion in mid-19th and the early 20th centuries.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Darien McCormack

    Magnificent. Kept trying to read slower, to make it last longer. Trailed a little at the end, but was an extremely good read. To the standard of his first two books; Sarum and The New Forest.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Shay Byrne

    I have read all Edward rutherfurd books still waiting for China the book what is holding this book up.james byrne

  19. 4 out of 5

    Peter Baran

    I've not read any other Rutherfurd books, but have seen them like bricks in bookshops, 800 pages of research threaded through with some made up characters. This is a big book about China, in particular the China from the Opium Wars to Boxer Rebellion, and has a broad and large cast of people - Chinese and British - who interact with but don't significantly effect history. This is what happened, Rutherfurd is saying, and the lives and story woven through show us what it was like to live with that I've not read any other Rutherfurd books, but have seen them like bricks in bookshops, 800 pages of research threaded through with some made up characters. This is a big book about China, in particular the China from the Opium Wars to Boxer Rebellion, and has a broad and large cast of people - Chinese and British - who interact with but don't significantly effect history. This is what happened, Rutherfurd is saying, and the lives and story woven through show us what it was like to live with that turmoil over seventy years or so, And so it is not really about any of its characters, because the biggest character of all is China itself. Well, actually its a bit about John Trader, a nominatively determined Dickens style character full of quirks and twists and hidden secrets, who is an opium trader but doesn't really want to be an one. John Trader is a difficult character for me, not just because of his name, but also because he feels out of time. He has been stitched together out of the childhoods of other Victorian school novels, he is the vehicle with which we get to understand class dynamics, but also suffers a grand guignol maiming of remarkable mundanity, We come back to John a lot, he lives to be ninety nine, and each time I felt he was explaining something to me that should be obvious from the text. It also meant I didn't really trust the Chinese characters that much. If I found John such a cliche, my interest in his Chinese counterparts probably just hid my lack of understanding that they were similarly one dimensional caricatures (even I thought too much time was spent on foot binding). For most of the book these storylines run parallel, the travails of Second Son's wife, the court insider and local administrator. And then about halfway the style changes. We suddenly get and first person confessional from a Eunuch called Lacquer Nail who ends up in the service of the Dowager Empress. Suddenly the book came to life - its a pity it happens about four hundred pages in.. China is eight hundred pages long and exists if you want a challenging beach read. You will certainly learn a lot, and I certainly can't fault the history. That said there are many clunky bits, not least when John Trader wonders out loud what historians of the future will make of the opium trade. Full disclosure, I almost gave up, but luckily hit the Lacquer Nail section which is gossipy and exciting. But it still feels like an awful lot of research with a story painted on top.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    A historical fiction account of China from the Opium Wars until the fall of Empress Cixi in 1875. I was unimpressed by the writing, characterisations and the disjointedness of the story. Whilst many historical events are encapsulated in the book they are not covered in great detail yet the book is unnecessarily long.

  21. 4 out of 5

    KayDee

    I’ve read most of Rutherfurd’s books, and I’ve generally like them quite a lot. While I found the time period fascinating, and really liked the Opium trade/wars as a backdrop, I didn’t find myself getting attached to any of the characters. It was a very large investment of my time so I was a little disappointed this time around.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    Wonderful historical fiction of China from 1839 to 1901, Edward Rutherfurd's book is well researched, and the characters are an interesting mixture of players: from a eunuch in the court of the emperor, to an English opium trader; from a Chinese civil servant to an English missionary, and many more. The book begins with the Opium War, which consisted of military engagements between England and the Qin Dynasty (often referred to as the Manchurian dynasty.) This was fascinating to me inasmuch as m Wonderful historical fiction of China from 1839 to 1901, Edward Rutherfurd's book is well researched, and the characters are an interesting mixture of players: from a eunuch in the court of the emperor, to an English opium trader; from a Chinese civil servant to an English missionary, and many more. The book begins with the Opium War, which consisted of military engagements between England and the Qin Dynasty (often referred to as the Manchurian dynasty.) This was fascinating to me inasmuch as my knowledge was limited about it. The novel depicts the continual humiliation and exploitation of China by Europe and how the Chinese adapted. My favorite part of the novel deals with the interactions between Long Nail and Empress Dowager Cixi. Long Nail is a eunuch who is betrayed and then redeemed as Cixi's manicurist. I am looking forward to the next novel by Rutherfurd which is set during the 20th Century in China, including the rise of Mao and the Cultural Revolution!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Randal White

    I absolutely loved this book! Covering the period from the Opium Wars through the Boxer Rebellion, the author made me feel like I was there. A wide variety of richly developed characters allow the reader to experience the events from multiple perspectives. The author follows history closely, using a mix of actual and fictional people. Some of the characters you will love, some you will despise, but they all add to the story. As with all of the author's books, this is a LONG book. Well over 800 p I absolutely loved this book! Covering the period from the Opium Wars through the Boxer Rebellion, the author made me feel like I was there. A wide variety of richly developed characters allow the reader to experience the events from multiple perspectives. The author follows history closely, using a mix of actual and fictional people. Some of the characters you will love, some you will despise, but they all add to the story. As with all of the author's books, this is a LONG book. Well over 800 pages! I had a bit of difficulty getting into it at first. I had recently read "The Opium Lord's Daughter" by Robert Wang, so much of the beginning seemed to be repetitive, but then Wow! Did the story ever take off! I lost a lot of sleep, reading into the wee hours because I just could not put this book down! A great, epic read! Highly highly recommend!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Randal White

    I absolutely loved this book! Covering the period from the Opium Wars through the Boxer Rebellion, the author made me feel like I was there. A wide variety of richly developed characters allow the reader to experience the events from multiple perspectives. The author follows history closely, using a mix of actual and fictional people. Some of the characters you will love, some you will despise, but they all add to the story. As with all of the author's books, this is a LONG book. Well over 800 p I absolutely loved this book! Covering the period from the Opium Wars through the Boxer Rebellion, the author made me feel like I was there. A wide variety of richly developed characters allow the reader to experience the events from multiple perspectives. The author follows history closely, using a mix of actual and fictional people. Some of the characters you will love, some you will despise, but they all add to the story. As with all of the author's books, this is a LONG book. Well over 800 pages! I had a bit of difficulty getting into it at first. I had recently read "The Opium Lord's Daughter" by Robert Wang, so much of the beginning seemed to be repetitive, but then Wow! Did the story ever take off! I lost a lot of sleep, reading into the wee hours because I just could not put this book down! A great, epic read! Highly highly recommend!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Dr. Been

    I can't say I loved it, but yes, I liked it, since I found so many treats within. The historical account of Chinese emperors, the war, the ancient customs are very well depicted. But the book could have been a little precise. At times, I felt like losing the track of events and connection of one character to another. Audiobook was good, but again, it was distracting due to longevity of chapters. I can't say I loved it, but yes, I liked it, since I found so many treats within. The historical account of Chinese emperors, the war, the ancient customs are very well depicted. But the book could have been a little precise. At times, I felt like losing the track of events and connection of one character to another. Audiobook was good, but again, it was distracting due to longevity of chapters.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Laura Hill

    Thank you to Doubleday Books and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book will be published on May 11th, 2021. Writing: 5/5 Plot: 5/5 Characters: 5/5 A sweeping novel of China from 1839 - 1900, from the Opium Wars through China’s Century of Humiliation to the suppression of the Boxer rebellion. It’s the story of the conflicts surrounding the forced opening of China to Western trade, customs, and religion. The story is told through a variety of Thank you to Doubleday Books and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book will be published on May 11th, 2021. Writing: 5/5 Plot: 5/5 Characters: 5/5 A sweeping novel of China from 1839 - 1900, from the Opium Wars through China’s Century of Humiliation to the suppression of the Boxer rebellion. It’s the story of the conflicts surrounding the forced opening of China to Western trade, customs, and religion. The story is told through a variety of characters who span cultures, classes, backgrounds, and professions (including plenty of women characters with different roles, abilities and agendas). Multiple generations of characters such as a young English merchant trying to make his fortune (through opium), an upright Mandarin charged with enforcing the emperor’s ban of opium, a palace eunuch, a peasant girl, a mercenary pirate, a missionary, a Manchu bannerman, the emperor and various concubines and princes, and some craftsmen. The characters have depth, too. They reflect on what is happening, how they feel about their own role, and how to achieve their goals while maintaining their values (or how to shift their values to attain their goals). I love that history itself is the protagonist in this novel, rather than the background setting for individual stories. Everything is told through the personal stories of the characters — either through participation in the action or through conversations between neighbors, colleagues, and family members. Even past history is exemplified in ritual and description of the origin of individual morality. This approach brings to the fore what it was like to live through these times with only direct observations and rumors as sources of information. And how very different that information was depending on your location, background, profession, culture and connections. Additionally, there were so many fascinating descriptions of various ways of life — all told in a style that was interesting because someone was learning it (e.g. a craft) or going through it — so always real and never dry. This was a long book, and I literally had trouble putting it down. (As a warning, one of these “fascinating” descriptions was about foot binding, and I skimmed through trying not to read that at all. Of all the atrocities visited upon humans, this is the one I find most horrific and barbaric (yes, even more than female circumcision which comes in a close second). This is my first Rutherfurd and I’m now going back to read more. Meticulously researched, personal and accurate — a kind of modern day Michener for those old enough to remember classics like Tales of the South Pacific, Hawaii, The Source, or Caravans. After reading this, I have a far more in-depth understanding about the relationship between China and the West and of life in the 19th century.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Anschen Conradie

    #China - Edward Rutherfurd #hodderandstoughton #jonathanball The author is well-known for his epic novels of historical fiction, such as Sarum (Salisbury); New York; Paris; Russka (Russia) and Dublin. (Interesting trivia in this regard: Francis Edward Wintle uses the pseudonym Edward Rutherfurd. Born in Salisbury, England, he was educated at both the universities of Cambridge and Stanford, lived in both London and New York and now resides in Dublin.) China differs slightly from his previous novels i #China - Edward Rutherfurd #hodderandstoughton #jonathanball The author is well-known for his epic novels of historical fiction, such as Sarum (Salisbury); New York; Paris; Russka (Russia) and Dublin. (Interesting trivia in this regard: Francis Edward Wintle uses the pseudonym Edward Rutherfurd. Born in Salisbury, England, he was educated at both the universities of Cambridge and Stanford, lived in both London and New York and now resides in Dublin.) China differs slightly from his previous novels in that the period covered is shorter than usual; measuring decades, rather than centuries. The benefit thereof being, of course, that the reader becomes much better acquainted with and attached to the central characters as some of them appear from the beginning to the end of the novel. But, similar to the previous novels, this one is an epic work of historical fiction; narrating the history of China from 1839 to 1908 on a grand scale. At the opening of the novel China is under the Manchu-rule of the Qing-dynasty in Beijing (Peking) in the North. Towards the South, especially near Canton (Guangzhou) the opium trade is growing exponentially. A young Englishman, John Trader, leaves Calcutta to invest everything he has in the opium trade. At the same time the Chinese emperor decides to destroy the opium trade; claiming that the addictive qualities thereof are destroying the celestial kingdom. The truth is a bit more complex, though: silver is the currency most desired by all. Whilst the Chinese has sold tea to the British in exchange for silver in the past, the reality is that they are now buying opium from the British with the very same silver; creating a monetary and economical crisis. The result: the first opium war and the ceding of Hong Kong to the British Empire. I found some of the military (naval) scenes particularly interesting; the Chinese tried to lure the British into shallow waters since the British warships would get stranded, but the British struck back with the arrival of the Nemesis; a steam operated war ship, capable of navigating in shallow water and made of metal, making it virtually indestructible compared to the wooden Chinese dragon boats. The reader is also introduced to a peasant girl, Mei-Ling. Descendant from the Hakka, her feet were not bound and she is thus destined to marry a simple farmer, known only as Second Son. Her adopted younger brother, Nio, would become instrumental in the Taiping Rebellion; a bloody civil war between the Manchu Qing dynasty and the Hakka led Heavenly Kingdom. The last rebels would only be defeated in 1871; leaving 30-50 million people dead. The novel also covers the second opium war (resulting in the ironic flight of the emperor from the French and British armies to the North of the Great Wall.) The Wall was built to withstand enemies from the North; not foreseeing that a threat would ever come from the South. A far-reaching result of this war was the loss of Vladivostok to Russia. The Empress Dowager Cixi, who effectively ruled the Qing dynasty from 1861 until her death in 1908, is a true historical character, introduced to the reader by a eunuch in the Summer Palace, Lacquer Nail. It is interesting to note that the author refers to the memoirs of one Edmund Backhouse; a scandalous and somewhat doubtful account of this period in Chinese history, making Backhouse a character in the novel, but, due to his suspected unreliability, he is effectively replaced by the fictional Lacquer Nail as narrator. The novel concludes shortly after the Boxer-rebellion (1899-1901); an anti-Christian and anti-imperialism insurrection characterized by the use of the colour red; almost 800 pages after the opening scenes in 1839. The reading of this novel had me captivated for quite a while. The detail is breath-taking and I consulted the maps included in the novel constantly. It is not an easy or quick read; it is slow paced; thorough; historically accurate and fascinating, however, and deserves 5 stars from #Uitdieperdsebek I

  28. 5 out of 5

    J.R.

    Voltaire described history as a register of crimes and misfortunes. As he's done with other places, Edward Rutherfurd skillfully records crimes and misfortunes which have contributed to making it the place it is today in his remarkable novel China. Unlike some of his previous works which spanned thousands of years in the history of a particular place or country, this one covers a relatively short period of time. It traces the history of the country from the Opium Wars of 1839 to the revolution of Voltaire described history as a register of crimes and misfortunes. As he's done with other places, Edward Rutherfurd skillfully records crimes and misfortunes which have contributed to making it the place it is today in his remarkable novel China. Unlike some of his previous works which spanned thousands of years in the history of a particular place or country, this one covers a relatively short period of time. It traces the history of the country from the Opium Wars of 1839 to the revolution of 1911, the dawn of modern China, and deals largely with the influence of foreign invaders on the Chinese and their rulers. There are plenty of crimes and misfortunes depicted in this short span of time. The crimes are perpetrated by both the foreign invaders and the Chinese. The misfortunes largely fall upon the Chinese people. It's no wonder a diverse nation dedicated to order, tradition, and respect for nature was puzzled by the behavior of the crude, rapacious invaders and saw them as barbarians. The west seems to have as little understanding of China now than it did then. As previously, Rutherfurd employs a large cast of characters and their interweaving relationships to tell his story. These characters aren't all admirable, but they're always interesting and provide a deeper insight into the people involved, the country, and the events. Some who particularly grabbed my attention were John Trader, the British merchant whose long-life and exploits have him in the story nearly from start to finish; Mei-Ling, the peasant girl who wins over her domineering mother-in-law by birthing a son and later becomes the concubine of the ambitious scholar Shi-Rong, and Lacquer Nail, the eunuch who wins the favor of the Empress Cixi. If I have any complaint about the novel it would be Rutherfurd's occasional jarring use of modern words like 'funnily.' Otherwise, if you're in the mood for an epic historical pageant, this is a novel you'll want to read.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Faichney

    Edward Rutherfurd's "China" is epic in every sense of the word. It's a brilliantly fictionalised account of the history and culture of the country. I particularly enjoyed the insight into rural and Palace life. Rutherfurd pulls no punches and effectively conveys the brutality of war. He also shines a light on how truly awful, self-serving and exploitative the British are. This is the first book I've read from this author and I look forward to reading more.  Edward Rutherfurd's "China" is epic in every sense of the word. It's a brilliantly fictionalised account of the history and culture of the country. I particularly enjoyed the insight into rural and Palace life. Rutherfurd pulls no punches and effectively conveys the brutality of war. He also shines a light on how truly awful, self-serving and exploitative the British are. This is the first book I've read from this author and I look forward to reading more. 

  30. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    I love the historic epic novels that Edward Rutherfurd and James Michener have written. This one did not disappoint either. The cast is varied and extremely interesting. The time period is a bombshell moving into the 1900's. My only regret is that the time frame is so small in China's vast history. It soon became apparent that to write a book about the WHOLE history of China in the Rutherfurd fashion is impossible. Sigh. I love the historic epic novels that Edward Rutherfurd and James Michener have written. This one did not disappoint either. The cast is varied and extremely interesting. The time period is a bombshell moving into the 1900's. My only regret is that the time frame is so small in China's vast history. It soon became apparent that to write a book about the WHOLE history of China in the Rutherfurd fashion is impossible. Sigh.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.