Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Courtesan - Book Review

The Courtesan by Alexandra Curry is a retelling of the Chinese legend of Sai Jinhua. After a tragic period of time as a prostitute, Jinhua becomes the concubine of a scholar. Jinhua joins her husband on his travels to Europe and dazzles the Austrian Empress and others. Jinhua returns to China and becomes famous as the Emissary's Courtesan in Peking. She survives the brutality of the wars during the end of the nineteenth century as she searches for the Great Love.

Much has been written about Jinhua in the past and Curry adds to the tale with her humanized version of this enigmatic Chinese woman. Curry's writing style is beautiful and haunting. Her descriptions of China were mesmerizing and fascinating in their beauty and violence. She writes about horrifying and violent moments that leave the reader breathless and anxious but without being obscene or gratuitous.

Curry's beautiful writing and Jinhua's tortured and hopeful life combined to create a very readable novel. Curry seeks to make Jinhua a believable and real person instead of feeding the rumors and legend. Though the novel drags in parts, I was caught up in Jinhua's world. I ached for the tortured little girl with her bound feet as she's forced into prostitution--hoped for the adult Jinhua as she got another view of the world and searched for true love.

The Courtesan by Alexandra Curry is a sweeping novel that doesn't immortalize the sympathetic Sai Jinhua yet captures her beauty and fortitude and makes her entirely authentic.

The Courtesan by Alexandra Curry is published by Dutton and released on September 8, 2015. 

**I received a complimentary copy of The Courtesan. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own.**

No comments: