Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Painter of Shanghai by Jennifer Cody Epstein

ISBN: 978-0393065282
Publisher: W W Norton/2008
Pages: 416

Book Blurb:

Epstein's sweeping debut novel, set in early 20th-century China, fictionalizes the life of Chinese painter Pan Yuliang. Born Xiuquing, she is orphaned at a young age and later sold into prostitution by her uncle, who needs the money to support his opium habit. Renamed Yuliang, she becomes the brothel's top girl and soon snags the attention of customs inspector Pan Zanhua, who makes her his concubine. Zanhua sets her up in Shanghai, where she enrolls in the Shanghai Art Academy and early on struggles with life study, unable to separate the nude's monetary value from its value in the currency of beauty. She eventually succeeds, winning a scholarship to study in Europe.

My Views:

It reads like a novel and takes us right in the life of China. I was all along with Pan Yuliang, who despite starting as a prostitute and a concubine of a custom inspector makes it good because of her painting skills. The path is not easy but she does not give up. She has this burning desire to learn and strives for what she most desires. Her relationship with Zanhua is very beautiful, who is radical in his views. He is encouraging towards her. I liked Yuliang's ambitions and her determination in the face of adversity. Wherever she goes her past life catches with her but she rises above it all.

The novel talks of the art world and the politics of the times. It spans 40 years. Those who like history will love this book.

7 comments:

Book Dilettante said...

It's on my list!

mel u said...

I have seen this book in Hardbound in the stores here in Manila-as soon as it is out in paperback I will buy it-it sounds like kind of a good companion book for Shanghai Girls-great review

Jo-Jo said...

This is one of those books that caught my eye a while ago, but I kind of forgot about it. I will have to look for this one at the used book store this weekend. Thanks for the review and the reminder!

Anna said...

I read this one back in 2008. I absolutely loved it!

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Marg said...

I have had this book on my TBR list for the longest time. I think I have even borrowed it from the library at least once but never got around to reading it. I really must request it again.

MarthaE said...

Sounds like she is courageous and persevering! I bet the history time setting was interesting.

Serena said...

I really loved this book. I'm glad you enjoyed it!