The Courtesan

The Courtesan : A Novel

3.5 (1,632 ratings by Goodreads)
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A timeless novel of one woman who bridged two worlds in a tumultuous era of East meets West
The Courtesan"is an astonishing tale inspired by the real life of a woman wholived and loved in the extraordinary twilight decades of the Qing dynasty. To this day, Sai Jinhua is a legend in her native land of China, and this is her story, told the way it might have been.
The year is 1881. Seven-year-old Jinhua is left an orphan, alone and unprotected after her mandarin father s summary execution for the crime of speaking the truth. For seven silver coins, she is sold to a brothel-keeper and subjected to the worst of human nature. Will the private ritual that is her father s legacy and the wise friendship of the crippled brothel maid be enough to sustain her?
When an elegant but troubled scholar takes Jinhua as his concubine, she enters the close world of his jealous first wife. Yet it is Jinhua who accompanies him--as Emissary to the foreign devil nations of Prussia, Austro-Hungary, and Russia--on an exotic journey to Vienna. As he struggles to play his part in China's early, blundering diplomatic engagement with the western world, Jinhua s eyes and heart are opened to the irresistible possibilities of a place that is mesmerizing and strange, whereshe will struggle against the constraints of tradition and her husband s authority and seek to find Great Love.
Sai Jinhua is an altered woman when she returns to a changed and changing China, where a dangerousclash of cultures pits East against West. The moment arrives when Jinhua s western sympathies will threaten not only her own survival, but the survival of those who are most dear to her.
A book that shines a small light on the large history of China s relationship with the West, "The Courtesan"is a novel that distills, with the economy of a poem, a woman s journey of untold miles to discern what is real and abiding."
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Product details

  • Hardback | 400 pages
  • 152.4 x 228.6 x 25.4mm | 630.49g
  • English
  • 0525955135
  • 9780525955139
  • 2,199,335

Review quote

Praise for "The Courtesan"
"Curry offers a fascinating glimpse into China at the moment foreign influences are sweeping through the country. Narrated from various characters points of view, this is not only the story of Jinhua but that of China itself. Highly recommended for fans of Lisa See and Amy Tan." -"Library Jounal, "starred review
The smooth-as-silk prose, flavored with details of Chinese customs and Jinhua s favorite mythological stories, heightens the sense that we re hearing a legend retold this creative and haunting interpretation spurs interest in the real Sai Jinhua. -"Booklist"
"Brightly detailed story of a woman's efforts to be "curious and virtuous and wise" despite the oppressive forces surrounding her." -"Kirkus Reviews"
A sweeping epic set in a forgotten time, "The Courtesan "is a beautiful, enchanting book. Full of scandal and intrigue, Curry takes us from Vienna to Peking, from an enchanted girlhood home to the innermost rooms of a brothel to the halls of imperial power. Masterfully told, exquisitely detailed, "The Courtesan" is a tale I won't soon forget. Anton DiSclafani, bestselling author of "The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls"
"The Courtesan" is the best kind of historical fiction lyrical, sweeping, powered by an extraordinary heroine and extraordinary, world-changing events. Meticulously researched and mesmerizingly poetic, It is the kind of novel that tumbles us effortlessly into the past, in the process reminding us why that past is so important because in the end, it is separated from our present by the very thinnest of membranes. --Jennifer Cody Epstein, internationally bestselling author of "The Painter from Shanghai"
In her sweeping novel, Alexandra Curry breathes new life into a worthy historical heroine and the unfathomably tumultuous life she led."The Courtesan "is araw, vibrant, and moving tale of love and loss, war and splendor, and the inspiring leading lady who navigates it all, surviving against the odds while also preserving her pure heart and unshakable human decency. Allison Pataki, bestselling author of "The Accidental Empress""
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About Alexandra Curry

Alexandra Gambrill Curry, Canadian-born of Austrian and British parentage, has spent happy years living in Asia, Europe, Canada, and the United States. A graduate of Wellesley College, she now lives in Atlanta. "The Courtesan "is her first novel.
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Rating details

1,632 ratings
3.5 out of 5 stars
5 16% (258)
4 33% (545)
3 38% (622)
2 10% (171)
1 2% (36)
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