My Splendid Concubine

My Splendid Concubine is the tale of Sir Robert Hart, Inspector General for Chinese Maritime Customs. My Splendid Concubine is based on true events but Mr. Lofthouse felt that in order to really do Sir Robert Hart’s story justice he wanted to make this book somewhat fictional vs. non fictional. He was the only foreigner the Emperor trusted and was such a huge influence in China. He was responsible for generating one third of the national revenue crucial to the Ch’ing Dynasty’s survival.

Sir Robert Hart was born in Ireland but went away to work for the British Consulate in China. The story starts when a young Sir Robert Hart arrives in China. The year is 1854. After spending a few weeks learning how to speak Chinese ends up sailing on a ship called Iona, which is a schooner for opium. Sir Robert Hart meets a variety of people like Captain Dan Patridge, Payne Hollister; the British Consul, Guan-jiah; Sir Robert Hart’s trusty servant, Ward; a mercenary general, and his two concubines Ayaou and her sister Shao-mei. Sir Robert Hart meets Ayaou for the first time while invading a Taipings break camp to rescue some men. Sir Robert Hart has love only for Ayaou but soon learns that it is very uncommon to love only one woman. Ayaou even tells Sir Robert Hart one day that “I don’t know what it’s like where you come from, but in China a girl is born to be a foot warmer for a man.” Sir Robert Hart lived in China for about fifty-five years until he moved back to his home country of Ireland to day an old man.

Mr. Lloyd Lofthouse did an amazing job with My Splendid Concubine. I thought Sir Robert Hart’s story was a beautiful one of romance for both his concubines as well as the country of China. I have to admit I have never heard of Sir Robert Hart but after reading his story I have a great admiration for what he did in addition to his determination to learn the culture there and become a Chinamen. You can definitely tell all the labor of love Mr. Lloyd Lofthouse put into writing My Splendid Concubine. Mr. Lofthouse wanted to tell the earlier years of Sir Robert Hart and when he was an interpreter for the British Consulate in Ningpo with his concubine Ayaou. Thank you, Mr. Lofthouse for making sure Sir Robert Hart’s story got told.

Courtesty of FAR


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