The internationally bestselling author of Paris and New York takes on an exhilarating new world with his trademark epic style in China: The Novel
Edward Rutherfurd has enthralled millions of readers with his grand, sweeping historical sagas that tell the history of a famous place over multiple generations. Now, in China: The Novel, Rutherfurd takes readers into the rich and fascinating milieu of the Middle Kingdom.
The story begins in 1839, at the dawn of the First Opium War, and follows Chinese history through Mao's Cultural Revolution and up to the present day. Rutherfurd chronicles the rising and falling fortunes of members of Chinese, British, and American families, as they negotiate the tides of history. Along the way, in his signature style, Rutherfurd provides a deeply researched portrait of Chinese history and society, its ancient traditions and great upheavals, and China's emergence as a rising global power. As always, we are treated to romance and adventure, heroines and scoundrels, grinding struggle and incredible fortunes.
China: The Novel brings to life the rich terrain of this vast and constantly evolving country. From Shanghai to Nanking to the Great Wall, Rutherfurd chronicles the turbulent rise and fall of empires as the colonial West meets the opulent and complex East in a dramatic struggle between cultures and people.
Extraordinarily researched and majestically told, Edward Rutherfurd paints a thrilling portrait of one of the most singular and remarkable countries in the world.
Rutherfurd's immersive if uneven epic (after Paris: The Novel) focuses on the development of China's relationship with the West. He begins in 1839, on the eve of what became known as the Opium War. British traders have been profiting from selling the drug to the Chinese, and Lord Lin, a righteous government minister, vows to stamp out the lucrative trade, by force if necessary, a tack that prompts the British to showcase their naval superiority. Rutherfurd carries the story forward through the early 20th century, ending it after the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, and the untimely death of a Chinese emperor. The conflicts are illuminated via a large cast, including Lin's young assistant, Jiang Shi-Rong; Nio, a pirate who shifts his alliances out of expediency; the unimaginatively named Englishman John Trader, whose fortune hinges on the uninterrupted flow of opium from India into China; and Lacquer Nail, a father and husband who becomes a palace eunuch to support his family, a trade Rutherfurd illuminates with somewhat expositional dialogue. The earlier sections are more engaging than the exhausting second half, and the balance between Asian and Occidental characters may disappoint some who'd hoped, from the title, that the focus would be on the Chinese. Nonetheless, readers unfamiliar with the history will learn something from this action-packed saga.
Good, not his best
I have read everything by Rutherfurd. His writing is always an easy read. I looked forward to this novel, but unlike New York, Paris, London, The Forest etc., the time span of the book was a lifetime rather than centuries. There was more Peyton Place than Michener in this one. It is still a good read, just not the historical novel that I had expected.