Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Our Hart: Elegy for a Concubine by Lloyd Lofthouse

Last year, I had the opportunity to review the award winning 'My Splendid Concubine' by Lloyd Lofthouse. I really enjoyed it and told Lloyd that I would love to review his sequel. Luckily, he took me up on and my offer.

'Our Hart' is the continuation of the fictionalized account of the real person, Robert Hart. In 'My Splendid Concubine' he was an interpreter for the British Consulate in China. He fell in love with two concubines, Ayaou and her younger sister Shao-mei. At the end of the book, Shao-mei, was killed by someone out to get revenge on Robert.

In 'our Hart', Robert and Ayaou grieve over Shao-mei and Robert tries to better protect Ayaou. As his career grows, so does his family. Ayaou has children and their eunuch servant, Guan-Jiah becomes a surrogate uncle for the children. Robert became the deputy commissioner of customs for the Ch’ing dynasty in his late 20's. and it kept him away from his family for long stretches at a time. He was indispensible to the dynasty and work for them in to his senior year. They fondly referred to him as "Our Hart".

Our Hart is the story of Robert's lifelong career in China and his relationship with Ayaou and his lifetime servant, Guan-Jiah. Lloyd Lofthouse does a great job pacing the story and keeping the reader engaged. I thought the story got a bit repetitive with Ayaou's whining and questioning Robert's love but other than that it was a great story. Note, that I read an uncorrected proof, so perhaps some of Ayaou's whining was reduced. 

Though 'Our Hart' could be read as a standalone book, I highly recommend that you read 'My Splendid Concubine' first, as it gives you quite a bit of background that makes 'Our Hart' a richer read. I highly recommend both of these books to historical fiction lovers who are interested in Chinese culture.

If you are interested in learning more about the books, Robert Hart, and China, Lloyd Lofthouse has a blog with some great links to explore.  It is called, Learning China.

4/5

Thanks to Paula Krapf and Penny Sansevieri of Author Marketing Experts, Inc. and Lloyd Lofthouse for a copy of this book.

Also reviewed by:

11 comments:

This was a good book. Thanks for the link. Glad to see others liked it too.

Elena, yes it was. Your very welcome.

I love to read about other cultures, especially Asian cultures,so this sounds wonderful to me. I would want to read both books and in order! Great review!

sounds like a fascinating look inside china.

Ooh, never heard of this one- I must have missed your review of the prequel? I like this look at an older China. Great review!

Kathy, I love to read about other cultures too.

Heather, it is!

Aarti, thanks. I forgot to add the link to my review of My Splendid Concubine. I just added it now.

Teddy, thank you for the kind review for Our Hart. Regarding "I thought the story got a bit repetitive with Ayaou's whining and questioning Robert's love but other than that it was a great story."

You were not alone in your opinion about Ayaou's whining. When I mailed out the Advanced Review Copies for early reviews, I mailed a few to colleagues and friends for feedback. Dianne Salerni, the author of We Hear the Dead (due to be released May 2010) felt the same and wrote up a detailed critique for areas she thought needed work. Due to her comments and suggestions from other friends, Our Hart went through revisions before the final copy was sent to the printer. Thanks to suggestions from Dianne, a few new scenes were added too.

I've read Dianne's historical fiction novel, and you may want to consider reading it when it comes out. We Hear the Dead is fascinating and is based on a true story.

We Hear the Dead may be discovered at:

http://www.amazon.com/We-Hear-Dead-Dianne-Salerni/dp/1402230923/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1265945007&sr=1-1

I remember your earlier review of My Splendid Concubine and how much you enjoyed it. Great that you were able to further enjoy the story based on Robert Hart.

Lloyd, thanks for stopping by. Your book is worthy of praise. I'm glad some changes were mad to the published version.

We Hear the Dead does sound really good. I don't read much YA but this sounds like it's worth reading.

Wanda, me too. Sometimes a sequel can let you down, but this didn't.

Better Late than Never. Our Hart, Elegy for a Concubine posted on Amazon.com today. The novel was scheduled to release in January 2010.

http://www.amazon.com/Hart-Elegy-Concubine-Lloyd-Lofthouse/dp/0981955312/ref=cm_cmu_up_thanks_hdr

Lloyd, I'm glad it's on Amazon now.

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