In 1930s Malaya a sixteen-year-old girl, dreaming of marriage to her sweetheart, is sold as a concubine to a rich old man desperate for an heir. Trapped, and bullied by his spiteful wife, Yu Lan plans to escape with her baby son, despite knowing that they will pursue her to the ends of the earth.
Four generations later, her great-grandson, Nick, will return to Malaysia, looking for the truth behind the facade of a house cursed by the unhappy past. Nothing can prepare him for what he will find.
This exquisitely rich novel brings to life a vanished world – a world of abandoned ghost houses, inquisitive monkeys, smoky temples and a panoply of gods and demons. A world where a poor girl can be sold to fulfil a rich man’s dream. But though he can buy her body, he can never capture her soul, nor quench her spirit.
Book Rating: 8/10
Somber, evocative, and poignant!
The Concubine’s Child is a compelling tale that sweeps you away to a country where money is power, freedom is often beyond reach, and the people are governed by the ancient superstitions, traditions, and spirituality that have been passed down and ingrained from generation to generation.
The prose is vivid and rich. The characters are multi-layered, sympathetic, and vulnerable. The plot is well crafted and uses a back-and-forth, past/present style to unravel all the motivations, relationships, and personalities within it. And the story set in Malaysia during both the 1930s, as well as present day, is full of familial drama, heartbreak, lost love, jealousy, obsession, discord, mystique, culture, courage, grief, self-discovery, hope, solace, and survival.
Overall, I would have to say that The Concubine’s Child is a heart-wrenching tale that does an exceptional job of highlighting the indomitable spirit of women and their ability to face, endure, survive, and conquer any challenges, struggles, or tragedies that come their way.
About the Author:
Born in Brisbane, Australia, Carol Jones taught English and Drama at secondary schools before working as an editor of children’s magazines. She is the author of several young adult novels as well as children’s non-fiction.
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Thank you to Aria, an imprint of Head of Zeus for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.