Thursday, December 29, 2011

'All the Flowers in Shanghai' by Duncan Jepson TLC Book Stop

Summary: For every young Chinese woman in 1930s Shanghai, following the path of duty takes precedence over personal desires . For Feng, that means becoming the bride of a wealthy businessman in a marriage arranged by her parents. In the enclosed world of the Sang household—a place of public ceremony and private cruelty—fulfilling her duty means bearing a male heir. For every young Chinese woman in 1930s Shanghai, following the path of duty takes precedence over personal desires. The life that has been forced on her makes Feng bitter and resentful, and she plots a terrible revenge. But with the passing years comes a reckoning, and Feng must reconcile herself with the sacrifices and terrible choices she has made in order to assure her place in the family and society—even as the violent, relentless tide of revolution engulfs her country.

First thoughts after I finished: "That was a very depressing book."

I'm absolutely intrigued by the role of women in China and read almost any book that tells their story. This one sounded so wonderful and full of promise. I have to admit that it started out very slow for me and the way the author wrote had me feeling uncomfortable and out-of-step with the fluidity of the words. Eventually that seemed to work itself out and the story moved along and I found myself pulled into Feng's life story. Unfortunately for Feng, the author, and myself, I just could NOT for the life of me like this woman. She took her hatred and anger to the extreme and with that she also stole my ability to find something redeeming in her as a person. I understand what the author was trying to convey and I think his writing is beautiful, but I wish that at some point he would've created a character who had more layers and was slowly broken down. Instead, he seemed to fast forward the years and left out important character building qualities along the way.

Recommend? For those that want to read books that take place in China and during the revolution, I think you would enjoy this. I did really enjoy the Further Reading section and took note of books the author listed that I would like to read in the future.  My lack of caring for the main character is on one else.

Fellow bloggers that enjoyed this book:

The Lost Entwife: "Overall – I thought the story was a beautiful look at the history of the woman in China in the 30′s.  The focus was so intent on Feng, her choices, her lifestyle, and her family, that everything else falls to the wayside.  Lush language makes the book very easy to fall into, and I was up until 2am to finish it last night because I didn’t want to put it down."

Book Hooked Blog " Just don't go into it expecting a detailed history of the Cultural Revolution - I think it actually reads better if you are already familiar to some extent with Mao and his policies and the sweep of the Cultural Revolution.  I think this would be a good book to read along with Balzac and the Little Chinese 

Raging Bibliomania: "I did enjoy this book and fell into the pages quite easily. It was a story that was chock full of strong emotions and starred a character who made difficult and unpardonable choices. In the end, I think that readers of this book will grow to understand Feng and the sacrifices she made in order to preserve the very heart of herself. A very interesting offering that somewhat surprised me."

About Duncan Jepson

Duncan Jepson is the award-winning director and producer of five feature films. He has also produced documentaries for Discovery Channel Asia and National Geographic Channel. He was the editor of the Asia-based fashion magazine West East and is a founder and managing editor of the Asia Literary Review. A lawyer by profession, he lives in Hong Kong.
Visit Duncan at his website,

Source: TLC Book Tours and William Morrow
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 302
Published:  January 2012
*ARC provided
Disclaimer:Thank you to TLC Book Tours for sending me a review copy. I was not compensated for my review. My thoughts on this book were in no way influenced by the author or publicist.They are my personal reflections based solely on MYexperience while reading this novel.

© 2011, Staci of Life in the Thumb. All Rights Reserved. If you reading this on a site other than, Life in the Thumb or Staci's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.


  1. I'll be reviewing this next month.

  2. Sorry this one didn't work for you but at least the Further Reading section was helpful. I'm pretty sure I'd have a tough time caring about to a character who takes her hatred and anger to the extreme.

  3. >I did read a review about someone who expected something else from this one, and I would too..and that character, hm

  4. Sounds like a tough character to like. Wonder if I'd be able to stomach her given all that she's been through. I've been curious about this book, drawn to it by the cover, but I've seen some mixed reviews that make me hesitant. Ah, well.

  5. same for me, Toots. I couldn't like Feng for anything and quite frankly, I think it is very implausible for her to take on such an attitude. It didn't jibe with me at all. The ending was okay as far as the historical content goes. 2* from my perspective.

  6. The question is, how well does the author understand women from that period and time? I haven't read the book as yet but am curious about it.

  7. I love that you are always honest with your reviews. Sorry that you didn't like this book in the end.

  8. Oh No...this isn't the time of year for me and depressing reads. Thanks for the heads up.

    Happy New Years Staci.

  9. No depressing reads for me, thanks!

  10. I try not to read depressing books either! I like the cover though!

  11. I have a difficult time with books when I can't identify with the main character, so I understand your issue with this one. Thanks for sharing your thoughts for the tour!


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