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. 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. Historical fiction potboiler, yes. But where The Concubine Saga truly shines is its thought-provoking passages on relationships, attitudes and cultural differences. The heated dialogue between Hart and Ayaou will especially touch a nerve for any westerner who has ever lived and loved in China…" Thomas Carter, photojournalist and author of "China: Portrait of a People"
The Concubine Saga contains the two novels My Splendid Concubine and Our Hart, Elegy for a Concubine. These books tell the story of Robert Hart, the man who pulled China from isolation and into the world. This book is not just history, however. Intrigue, violence, and romance fill the pages of The Concubine Saga. It is difficult for a reader to be bored, even if there is not constant physical action, the book itself is fast-paced.
These novels could be enjoyed by most people. Although historical, Lofthouse wrote The Concubine Saga for all readers. Anyone interested in history would love these books and learn from them. The Goodreads summary provides a good description of the events of the book. I previously believed that I was relatively informed about the events that transpired during Hart’s time in China, but now realize that I was wrong. This book is more entertaining and informative than most any history lesson. Historically accurate and interesting, this book earns five out of five stars.
*Reviewed by Kristin*
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