18 June, 2012

The Concubine Saga by Lloyd Lofthouse Review

Description of The Concubine Saga:

Publisher: Three Clover Press
Category: Historical Fiction
Tour Dates: June, 2012
Available in Print and Kindle, 621 Pages
No Westerner has ever achieved Robert Hart’s status and level of power in China. Driven by a passion for his adopted country, Hart became the “godfather of China’s modernism”, inspector general of China’s Customs Service, and the builder of China’s railroads, postal and telegraph systems and schools.
However, his first real love is Ayaou, a young concubine. Sterling Seagrave, in Dragon Lady, calls her Hart’s sleep-in dictionary and says she was wise beyond her years.
Soon after arriving in China in 1854, Hart falls in love with Ayaou, but his feelings for her sister go against the teachings of his Christian upbringing and almost break him emotionally. To survive he must learn how to live and think like the Chinese. He also finds himself thrust into the Opium Wars and the Taiping Rebellion, the bloodiest rebellion in human history, where he makes enemies of men such as the American soldier of fortune known as the Devil Soldier.
During his early years in China, Robert experiences a range of emotion from bliss to despair. Like Damascus steel, he learns to be both hard and flexible, which forges his character into the great man he becomes.
In time, an ancient empire will rely on him to survive, and he will become the only foreigner the Emperor of China trusts.
Full of humanity, passion, and moral honesty, The Concubine Saga is the deeply intimate story of Hart’s loyalty and love for his adopted land and the woman who captured his heart.
“My Splendid Concubine” was the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
In the sequel, “Our Hart, Elegy for a Concubine”, he was the only foreigner the Emperor of China trusted.
Both novels have come together as one in “The Concubine Saga”. 
Praise for My Splendid Concubine and Our Heart:
“Lofthouse believes Hart was motivated to destroy his papers not out of shame but out of privacy: ‘What he had with Ayaou was something special he wanted to keep to himself. I don’t think he would approve of My Splendid Concubine … but we live in a different age than Victorian England. I feel that this love story deserves to be told.’ - Anneli Rufus , East Bay Express 
“My Splendid Concubine is packed cover to cover with intriguing characters and plot, a must read for historical fiction fans and a fine addition to any collection on the genre.” Midwest Book Review 
” For me, really, My Splendid Concubine is a love story that is rich with Chinese culture. I found the novel fascinating. It is beautifully written and so rich in details of the Chinese culture. Before this novel I did not know who Robert Hart was. I must thank Lloyd Lofthouse for this novel as now I feel I’ve been acquainted with a great man from history. One who respected and loved women and fought to make things better. I’ve also been introduced to many aspects of the Chinese culture that I didn’t know and I really enjoyed that. This was a really good novel for me and I was sorry to see it end.”- Darlene, Peeking Between the Pages 
“Our Hart hits the ground running and only reprises that earlier novel in quick asides…. fine and tightly controlled novel.”- Steve Donoghu, Historical Novel Society 
“As Historical Fiction books go, this is without doubt one of the best I have read in 2009, and my guess is that it is going to surpass the success that the author had with My Splendid Concubine.”- Simon Barrett, Blogger News Network 
“Our Hart is…a historical novel in the finest tradition, where one cannot be sure what is real and what is fiction…a most unconventional, and poignant, love story.” -John H. Manhold, FascinatingAuthors.com

“Historical fiction potboiler, yes. But where the `Concubine’ saga truly shines is its thought-provoking passages on relationships, attitudes and cultural differences.”-Tom Carter, author of China: Portrait of a People
About Lloyd Lofthouse:
Lloyd Lofthouse is the author of My Splendid Concubine and Our Hart [combined in this single volume], which earned honorable mentions in general fiction at the 2008 London Book Festival, 2009 San Francisco Book Festival, 2009 Hollywood Book Festival, 2009 Los Angeles Book Festival, 2009 Nashville Book Festival and was a finalist in historical fiction for the National Best Books 2010 Awards. Lloyd Lofthouse grew up in Southern California, served in the Vietnam War as a U.S. Marine and lives near San Francisco with his wife and family with a second home in Shanghai, China.

My Thoughts:
The Concubine Saga is a fictional of account of a real person, Robert Hart. He was was a British consular official in China, who served as the second Inspector General of China's Imperial Maritime Custom Service  from 1863 to 1911. He was born in Ireland but left in disgrace as a young man. He evidently was a very sexual young man and was unable to control his desires, according to his religious upbringing he went to China after he was awarded the position of  student interpreter in the China consular service. Not long after he arrived he met the woman,  Ayaou who was to become his concubine and with whom he would have three children. According to this story he also had Ayaou's sister come into the household as he didn't want her to be sold to cruel people and he had feelings for her also even though he was in love with Ayaou. Because of Robert's ability to handle delicate negotiations with the Chinese, he was able to move up the ranks to become a respectable and trusted man in China. In his personal life he was still at odds with his religion and his lifestyle as having concubines was not accepted in polite society. 

To further his understanding of the Chinese he learned "how to think like a Chinese" and learn all that he could learn about his adopted country and their customs and languages. This all helped him and because of his diplomatic skills he was able to work effectively with the Chinese and be the go between, if you will, for China and China's trading deals with other countries such as America, France and Germany. He was also very instrumental in establishing custom houses, railroads and various other programs to aid the Chinese. Because of his communication skills, patience, good judgement and good relations with the Chinese he earned himself the nickname of "our Hart".

When I started reading this story I was a little intimidated as, one: I had never heard of Sir Robert Hart and two: I knew very little about China. The author's depiction of Hart's life in China and with his relationships with Ayaou and her sister was told in descriptive detail and such beauty of the Chinese culture that I did not want it the story to end. A very well written and impeccably researched story that I highly recommend to the historical fiction fan. A lot of history but not written like a history book. This book does have a lot of sexual content in it but told in a very tasteful way. I really enjoyed this book.

Lloyd Lofthouse is also holding a giveaway for a limited edition signed hard-cover copy of The Concubine Saga! 

Leave an approved comment on one or more Blog posts found at Lloyd Lofthouse.org or iLook China.net
between May 30, 2012 and June 30, 2012
during "The Concubine Saga" Web Tour
and automatically be entered into a drawing
to win a limited edition, signed and numbered hard-cover copy of the novel.
(NOTE: only one limited-edition, hard-cover copy is available to give away)


Teddy Rose said...

Thanks so much for taking part in the tour. I am so glad you enjoyed the book.

Betty said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Betty said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Betty said...

Sounds like a great book. I love that you learned so much about China just by reading it... that is what I LOVE about historical fiction. I recently read a great historical fiction titled, "The Romanov Stone" by Robert C. Yeager. I learned so much about the Romanov family and of Russia, and was sad for the book to end. Thanks again for suggesting "The Concubine Saga" I can't wait to check it out.

CelticLady said...

Thanks Betty, I will have to take a look at the book!

Thanks for stopping by and commenting..

Betty said...

You are welcome. Thanks for letting me stop by!

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