The Courtesan by Alexandra Curry

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The Courtesan Read Online Free - 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 who lived 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, where she 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 dangerous clash 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. 

Title : The Courtesan
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 0525955135
Edition Language : English
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 400 pages


RoseMary rated it ★★★☆☆

May 05, 2015

This novel is a fictional account of Sai Jinhua, a famous courtesan in the late Qing Dynasty. Sai Jinhua became a prostitute at 20 and at 23 married Hong Jun, a retired top rank imperial official, as his concubine. She traveled extensively with her husband as an ambassador’s wife, but was later f...

Erin rated it ★★★★☆

May 21, 2017

The story of Sai Jinhua has been told before. It has been told in the language of poems, plays, novels, and opera. Sai Jinhua has been called a heroine- and a woman of depravity. Her life has been shaped, and reshaped, and twisted into allegory. The courtesan's story was banned, at times, in th...

☘Misericordia☘ rated it ★★★★☆

November 12, 2017

Not sure exactly why, but the story feels a bit filtered with Western perception. And I'm a sucker for all things authentic. Still, a worthy read, even though a bit fuzzy around the storyline twists. Q: A story is a garden you carry in your pocket. The stories we tell ourselves and each other are...

Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader rated it ★★★★★

August 08, 2015

This book was easily a 5 star plus read. It was highly readable, a page turner, and quite an adventure. I loved its basis in history during such a tumultuous time for China and the world. The main characters, Jinhua and Suyin, were lovable, and I felt for each of them from the very beginning. "Th...

Danielle rated it ★☆☆☆☆

August 27, 2015

I really wanted to like this book. As a fan of Arthur Golden's Memoirs of a Geisha and of Lisa See's books (and a huge fan of historical fiction in general), I was expecting an entertaining but educational read. Initially, The Courtesan reminded me of the Chinese Memoirs of a Geisha, as it centers...

Laurie rated it ★★★★☆

June 22, 2015

In 1881, a Chinese mandarin is beheaded for speaking the truth to the Emperor, leaving his 7 year old daughter, Jinhua, orphaned, as her mother died giving birth to her. His First Wife promptly sells her, and she, the pampered child who has unbound feet and the ability to read, ends up in a low c...

Hannah rated it ★★★★★

September 10, 2015

I received The Courtesan from First to Read (a Penguin program). It was published by Dutton in September of 2015. After her mother dies in childbirth and her father is executed, Sai Jinhua is sold to a brothel and expected to learn the art of pleasing and pleasuring men. Along with many other youn...

Ms. rated it ★★★★★

November 04, 2016

In an effort to make transitions in time seamless, The Courtesan is told in six parts—and all are riveting. Curry's storytelling is almost lyrical, and while she isn't yet ready to be compared to the likes of Tan, See, or Golden, she is no doubt on her way to carving out her own name among them. I...

Austin rated it ★★★★★

July 13, 2015

A beguiling and fascinating tale about Sai Jinhua, the fabled concubine and courtesan from China who enchanted men and women across the globe with her beauty, charm, wit, and perseverance. The Courtesan: A Novel by Alexandra Curry begins with the beheading of Jinhua's father and then proceeds to...

Laura Lee rated it ★★★★★

August 15, 2015

Debut novel and already can't wait for the author's next book! Book was so delicious I swallowed it whole. China 1880s. Jinhua is orphaned at a young age and is sold to a brothel. She becomes dear friends with Suyin, the maid. They are there for each other in heartbreaking ways. The book follows...

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