Dec 4, 2014

Book Review: Secrets of a Thousand Beauties by Mingmei Yip

The Friday 56: *Grab a book, any book. *Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader  *Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it) that grabs you. *Post it. *Add your (url) post in Linky at Freda's Voice. Also visit Book Beginnings at Rose City Reader.

Secrets of a Thousand Beauties by Mingmei Yip
Published November 25, 2014; Kensington
Genre: historical fiction
Book beginning:
It was my wedding day.
I was horrified.
Because my soon-to-be-lawful - and awful - husband was not even a man.
He was a ghost.
Page 56:
 "Now, watch carefully - I am going to use the 'wandering stitch' to show the mane of a galloping horse." 
My comments: On the day of her wedding as a ghost bride, Spring Swallow escapes from the family whose son she is betrothed to, a son who has died. Rather than live her life as as a widow in the home of a dead husband's family, she escapes to find a new life. She joins a group of embroiderers led by Aunty Peony, a woman who was once an embroiderer in the court of the Emperor.

The novel is told from Spring Swallow's point of view, but the story is also about Aunty Peony who once decorated the Emperor's robes with skillful and elaborate embroidery art, but who is now trying to piece together a living on her own. Aunt Peony's story is a sad one, reflecting the perilous and uncertain position of women during the Qing Dynasty and after its fall. In contrast, the younger woman Spring Swallow finds her way in a new era after the fall of the dynasty.

Intriguing historical setting and information about the centuries old art of embroidery in China. The author brings this art to life in her historical novel while telling the stories of these two women, Aunt Peony and Spring Swallow. An interesting novel, recommended for those interested in traditional culture and the arts in Chinese history.

Thanks to the author for a review ARC of this book.


  1. Wow. That first line is a real grabber. I have heard of ghost brides before but didn't know what it meant. Anne @ My Head is Full of Books

  2. The cultural situation in this novel seems do different from the point of view of someone living in the West.

    I would have preferred the beginning to take it just a little slower.

  3. I'm adding this one to my tbr. Thanks for sharing!

  4. The BB grabbed my attention.
    sherry @ fundinmental My TT

  5. What a fascinating story! And I love the cover, too. Thanks for sharing...and here's mine: “WALKING ON TRAMPOLINES”

  6. That opening definitely caught my attention. Thanks for sharing!
    Here's mine: "Murder on the Hill".

  7. The opening is intriguing; the book sounds excellent, Harvee!

  8. I love the premise on this and the excerpts are wonderful. I'll definitely have to add this to my TBR!

  9. At first I thought this was a paranormal story, but I'm glad to see it isn't. I have enjoyed doing embroidery in the past so this book sounds fascinating to me, especially with the setting. I'll read it for sure.
    My Friday post features HIDE IN PLAIN SIGHT.

  10. Thanks Harvee for the review! And happy reading everyone! Please also take a look at the book trailer:

  11. I saw this yesterday and want to read it! Looks fantastic!
    Happy weekend!

  12. I'm glad to see you liked it. I just received a copy and will be reading it after the holidays. I'm looking forward to it, now that I've seen your review! ;)


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