The Red Chamber

The Red Chamber

by Pauline A. Chen
4.0 14

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The Red Chamber by Pauline A. Chen

In this lyrical reimagining of the Chinese classic Dream of the Red Chamber, set against the breathtaking backdrop of eighteenth-century Beijing, the lives of three unforgettable women collide in the inner chambers of the Jia mansion. When orphaned Daiyu leaves her home in the provinces to take shelter with her cousins in the Capital, she is drawn into a world of opulent splendor, presided over by the ruthless, scheming Xifeng and the prim, repressed Baochai. As she learns the secrets behind their glittering façades, she finds herself entangled in a web of intrigue and hidden passions, reaching from the petty gossip of the servants’ quarters all the way to the Imperial Palace. When a political coup overthrows the emperor and plunges the once-mighty family into grinding poverty, each woman must choose between love and duty, friendship and survival.

In this dazzling debut, Pauline A. Chen draws the reader deep into the secret, exquisite world of the women’s quarters of an aristocratic household, where the burnish of wealth and refinement mask a harsher truth: marriageable girls are traded like chattel for the family’s advancement, and to choose to love is to risk everything. 

This ebook edition includes a Reading Group Guide.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307958419
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/10/2012
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 282,584
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Pauline A. Chen earned her B.A. in classics from Harvard, her J.D. from Yale Law School, and her Ph.D. in East Asian studies from Princeton. She has taught Chinese language, literature, and film at the University of Minnesota and Oberlin College. She is also the author of a novel for young readers, Peiling and the Chicken-Fried Christmas, and lives in Ohio with her two children.

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The Red Chamber 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
oberlin_reader More than 1 year ago
Heartbreaking and lyrical, this book takes you into the world of the Jia family in the person of Daiyu. You see and feel what she feels; her experiences become etched into your memory. By the end, the characters will become your own, and, as with all great literature, you will not want to let them go. I found myself turning over the experiences of Daiyu, Baoyu, Baochai, Xifeng, and Ping'er again and again; the silk that they wear against their bodies, the gold and jade worn close, the sudden well of sorrow, love, or desperation, their youth and illusions and how they go on when all that is shattered. Unforgettable.
SUKIELJ More than 1 year ago
If you love an epic family story with unforgetable characters, this book is for you. The characters are multi-dimensional with virtues and faults that are changed by their life experiences. For years the family lived a life of privilege and power but a change in government takes them to the other extremes. There are unexpected twists and turns and it's not over until the last page of the epilogue. I found the Chinese culture of the 1700's to be intriguing and it doesn't take long to get used to the names although I'm sure I mispronounced them. Many of these characters and their story will haunt me for quite a while.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Daiyu, whose mother had married below her station, is sent off to live with her mother's family in Beijing. She is introduced into an insular world in which an extended family lives within a large compound. Tensions build as whatever one family member does reverberates across the entire compound. An interesting view of an older, foreign culture. One of the strengths of the book is that your assessment of a given character often gradually changes as the story line unfolds. Overall, well worth reading. Two notes: The book apparently is a simplified rewrite of an older Chinese novel, Dream of the Red Chamber. I have not read the older work and am just as glad that I have not. Rather than constantly making comparisons (or being overcome with disappointment over anything that is not THE SAME as in the original novel - seen in a number of reviews), I was able to read this book for its own merits. Again, well worth reading. The book starts out with a number of chapters each introducing another major character. At first, I worried if I were going to keep the various characters straight, but as the book continues that does not turn out to be a problem. Don't get discouraged when you first begin the novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read!
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A Masterpiece
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very interesting plots and family dynamics. I could not put it down.
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