The Painter from Shanghai

The Painter from Shanghai

by Jennifer Cody Epstein
4.0 45

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The Painter from Shanghai by Jennifer Cody Epstein

Reminiscent of Memoirs of a Geisha, a re-imagining of the life of Pan Yuliang and her transformation from prostitute to post-Impressionist.

Down the muddy waters of the Yangtze River and into the seedy backrooms of "The Hall of Eternal Splendor," through the raucous glamour of prewar Shanghai and the bohemian splendor of 1920s Paris, and back to a China ripped apart by civil war and teetering on the brink of revolution: this novel tells the story of Pan Yuliang, one of the most talented—and provocative—Chinese artists of the twentieth century.Jennifer Cody Epstein's epic brings to life the woman behind the lush, Cezannesque nude self-portraits, capturing with lavish detail her life in the brothel and then as a concubine to a Republican official who would ultimately help her find her way as an artist. Moving with the tide of historical events, The Painter from Shanghai celebrates a singularly daring painting style—one that led to fame, notoriety, and, ultimately, a devastating choice: between Pan's art and the one great love of her life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393070293
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 03/17/2008
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 495,636
File size: 711 KB

About the Author

Jennifer Cody Epstein is the author of the international best-selling novel The Painter from Shanghai. She lived for five years in Japan, first as a student and then as a journalist. She now lives in New York with her husband and two daughters.

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The Painter from Shanghai 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 45 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of my favorite books of all time. This emotional story of a heroic woman is enlightening and heart-wrenching. I'm 21 years old and I found this book fascinating. I couldn't put it down.
jj39 More than 1 year ago
What is resonant about this book is the child sold into slavery/prostitution having a natural artistic gift that becomes her life's work. She is resented by both her former workmates in prostitution and hated by her classmates in art classes. As a Chinese female, her destiny was determined by her uncle who needed money for opium, thus she became a slave to the desires of misogynistic males. In the end, she becomes a famous artist but never quite overcomes the curse of being inferior to the male artists. But, on the other hand, most women artists don't thanks to cultural influences. Talent means nothing but trouble for them.
jaime More than 1 year ago
Reading The Painter from Shanghai is time well spent. Pan Yulaing overcomes a life of hardships that no one should have to face and reaches her destiny on her own terms. This woman is a lesson to us all. So the story is worthwhile just even on that level. Ms. Epstein's prose is beautiful, almost lyrical. I started this on a cold, iserable Monday and finished Tuesday. I just felt compelled to keep reading. So if you want to read a good book, and I don't mean beach reading or trans-continental jet reading, but a good story excellently written, try The Painter from Shanghai.
Chelsea_Hannah_Boo More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was amazing. I love to read about strong women throughout history. The book is about Pan Yuliang, who at a young age was sold to a whore house. She struggles and fights to get what she wants in life. And that is to be a painter. She was an amazing woman, and artist.
Skyeblue4 More than 1 year ago
Pan Yuliang's mind slips back into her past, back into the memories seared into her mind, and she feels the pain of loss. She left Zanhua, she left Shanghai and she left her heart. She drifts back to her days as Xiuqing, a fourteen year old living with her beloved uncle. He believed that modern girls should know the classics and he spent many a pleasant hour teaching her about poetry and politics, encouraging her to use her mind to think for herself. Then he betrayed her in the worst possible way. He sold her to the House of Eternal Splendor, so that he could continue the devastating addiction that was slowly ruining their lives. There, Yuliang learned to use her body for profit and numb her mind to the horrors faced by such a young, innocent girl. But there, she met Zanhau. Her intelligence, knowledge and beauty set her apart, yet she wasn't perfect. Her unbound feet, most unconventional in China at that time, set her apart from the other flowers, but Zanhau paid no mind. He saved her, though that one act nearly destroyed him, and he loved her beyond Yuliang's understanding. From there, her life changed, and even as a concubine, her talent in art began to bloom. In truth, did her uncle really betray her? All facets of Pan Yuliang's adult life and career were affected by the politics of the time. Author, Jennifer Cody Epstein's in-depth research is obvious in her thorough documentation of the changing political situation that indeed influenced the populace towards women artists and the western art culture. From acceptance to resistance, Pan Yuliang continued to paint what she felt was true. Detailed descriptions of the art world, its masters, techniques, and materials prove many hours of research. While there exists little information about the life of this intriguing artist, the incredible imagination and storytelling skills of Jennifer Cody Epstein, leave us with a fascinating novel that is definitely worth reading again and again. I look forward to more from this author. Highly Recommended Reviewer: Elaine Fuhr, Allbooks Reviews
SBeyer More than 1 year ago
A good book it took a chapter or two to get into the characters but, in the end you're not disappointed. . At a young age she was hurled into a world of prostitution. In the end she makes a name for herself
Mother-Daughter-Book-Club More than 1 year ago
The Painter from Shanghai by Jennifer Cody Epstein is a historical fiction novel based on the life of Pan Yuliang, a chinese artist born in 1899.

Sold into a brothel by her opium-addicted uncle when she's 14, Yuliang learns to cope with the help of her friend and top girl at the house, Jinling. Then Jinling's violent death emphasizes that life in a brothel is always tenuous and under someone else's control. When a local official, Pan Zanhua, becomes attracted to her for her mind and not her body, he buys her freedom from the house and makes her his second wife, or concubine. But the match is clearly one of love, and Zanhua wants Yuliang to develop her mind by learning to read. Soon Yuliang discovers another passion: painting. Defying convention of the times, she is admitted to the local art school, which has created scandal by bringing in nude models to paint. Yuliang wins a scholarship that takes her first to France, then to Rome to study western painting, and she returns home with new ideas about art that don't sit well with many in Chinese society at the time.

Epstein tells Yuliang's tale in this epic of a book about a woman who learns to gain control over her own fate. The Painter of Shanghai is filled with rich details of China from the early days of the 20th century into the very beginnings of the rise of communism, revealing the country's ambivalence between moving into a modern world or cleaving to the old ways. Yuliang is a strong woman who never compromises what she believes to be right, even at great cost to herself and her husband. I recommend it for mother-daughter book clubs with girls in 11th grade and up. Readers should be aware of detailed scenes of life in a brothel and other sexual encounters.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Xiuqing grew up believing that she was destined to become an artist, the next great female poet or perhaps a talented painter. When her mother died, little Xiu was taken in by her uncle. While he fanned her dreams, his own opium addiction would take the young girl on a very different path. Thus, at fourteen, Xiuqing became Yuliang, one of the girls working at The Hall of Eternal Splendor. For several years, Yuliang¿s existence was dictated by the whims of the Godmother who ran The Hall and the men who frequently the establishment. However, after the murder of her best friend, Yuliang¿s life suddenly changed. She met a man who appreciated and encouraged her natural curiosity and love of learning so that Pan Yuliang¿s true talents could eventually surface. If you liked Memoirs of a Geisha, you¿ll love The Painter of Shanghai. Both stories share the stories of young girls thrown into a world beyond their comprehension who rise above their circumstances. However, I have to admit that I actually preferred The Painter of Shanghai. In life, Pan Yuliang was a courageous woman who followed her truth no matter what the consequences. Her strength and perseverance is an inspiration to us all.
LostInMyBook More than 1 year ago
This was a great book I enjoyed it very much. The story was great and I liked the authors writing style.
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The storyline was good but the characters were undeveloped, scenery and setting minimal and there were major jumps in time that left me feeling that I had missed a chapter. The research is apparent and there were parts that were great but just so-so overall. Im bummed that I paid16$ for this.
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