The Concubine's Daughter: A Novel ~ by Pai Kit Fai
In the bestselling tradition of Memoirs of a Geisha, a riveting saga of early twentieth-century China, where a mother and a daughter fight to realize their destinies in a world where woman could still be bought and sold.
Lotus feet. He would give her the dainty feet of a courtesan, a princess stepping from a golden palanquin. He smiled to himself.... And it would stop her from running away.
Perhaps a 70-year-old spice farmer in southern China in 1907, should know better than to purchase a 15-year-old concubine, especially one who has the presumption to read and write. Still, she is beautiful, an exquisite plaything to replenish his youth and give him more sons….
When the concubine gives birth to a daughter, she kills herself, believing that the child will be put to death as a useless girl. But Li X’ia survives, at the mercy of her father, who sees her only as a source of future profit. When the farmer orders his wives to bind the girl’s feet to increase her value, Li outwits them and escapes the bandages. At the age of eight she is sold to the silk weavers at Ten Willows, where she faces a life of degradation—but Li manages to escape that too, and finds a way to continue the studies that mattered so much to her lost mother. In time she marries an English sea captain, Ben Devereax, only to be murdered by his enemies on the day she gives birth to their daughter.
That daughter, Siu Sing, is spirited to safety by the Fish, a devoted old servant of her parents'. The Fish takes Sing to Master To, a great teacher who watches over the child and trains her in spiritual wisdom and martial arts. But when Sing is approaching young womanhood, the Master is slain by a jealous former pupil, who sells Sing into slavery. Finding temporary refuge at an opium den where she is tutored in the arts of pleasing men, Sing refuses to settle for life as a concubine. Determined to find her English father, she calls upon all her courage and wisdom to embark on an adventure that will take her from great peace to great danger, and from remote mountain refuges to the perils of Shanghai and Hong Kong on the eve of World War II.