Secret of a Thousand Beauties
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Set against the vibrant and intrigue-laden backdrop of 1930s China, Mingmei Yip's enthralling novel explores one woman's defiant pursuit of independence.
Spring Swallow was promised in marriage while still in her mother's belly. When the groom dies before a wedding can take place, seventeen-year-old Spring Swallow is ordered to become a ghost bride to appease his spirit. Under her in-laws' protection, she will be little more than a servant, unable to know real love or bear children. Refusing to accept her fate as a "bad-luck woman," Spring Swallow flees on her wedding day.
In the city of Soochow, Spring Swallow joins a community of renowned embroiderers. The women work for Aunty Peony, whose exquisite stitching once earned her the Emperor's love. But when Aunty Peony agrees to replicate a famous painting--a lucrative assignment that will take a year to complete--betrayal and jealousy emerges within the group. Spring Swallow becomes entangled in each woman's story of heartbreak, even while she embarks on a dangerous affair with a young revolutionary. On a journey that leads from the remote hillsides around Soochow to cosmopolitan Peking, Spring Swallow draws on the secret techniques learned from Aunty Peony and her own indomitable strength, determined to forge a life that is truly her own.
Praise For The Novels Of Mingmei Yip
"A unique and enthralling style. . .flawless." –Baltimore Books Examiner on The Nine Fold Heaven
"Surprising and often funny. . .Part epic, part coming-of-age story, part modern fairy tale." --Publishers Weekly on Song of the Silk Road
"A serious, engaging story of faith, devotion, and the commingling of cultures." –Booklist on Petals From the Sky
Forbidden City and Aunty’s life and love in that vanished era, and assumed that she was imagining the same. Little Doll had taken her hands off her ears and seemed to be trying to hear our conversation, so I spoke in a whisper. “Aunty Peony, you better hide this in case the guards here—” “No, they won’t. The people here are idiots. They can’t tell the difference between an imperial garment and a rag.” She frowned and shook her head. “Don’t worry, after all that has happened to me, I’m not
of the shop owners’ families. Along the street ancient trees spread their umbrella-like foliage. Banners and red lanterns hung from rooftops. Here and there bicycles and rickshaws waited patiently for their owners’ return. As we had arrived quite early, most of the shops were still closed. At tables set up outside little restaurants, middle-aged men sipped tea, smoked, and read their morning newspapers. Housewives in cotton tops and pants carried fishnet bags or bamboo baskets in one arm and
When I picked up the last few bunches of threads, I spotted a thick book bound with brocade. I assumed it contained more patterns and notes, but when I opened it and started to read Aunty Peony’s tiny, very neatly brushed characters, I quickly realized that it was her diary. It seemed that, after all, she did confide her thoughts, not to us, of course, but to a notebook. I felt guilty intruding on her private life, but my curiosity was too much. Besides, she knew my secrets, so why shouldn’t I
front was a cabin, its large windows decorated with embroidered curtains and silk tassels. Outside under a canopy sat three girls, elaborately made up and wearing colorful silk gowns. Silver hairpins held their hair up in buns. Next to them were several men, one in an expensively tailored business suit, the others in traditional Chinese gowns. The drizzle veiled the girls’ faces, rendering them beautiful and mysterious, like immortals from a high mountain far, far away. Ryan looked intrigued.
here in the past.” “Who’s your friend?” “You won’t know even if I tell you, so please just tell me what happened.” This tough guy was as annoying and inquisitive as a gossipy woman. “Ha, ha, ha! Because the Golden Thread’s young master needed to pay off his gambling debt, that’s why!” “How much?” “Ha! May I ask why this is any of your business? He owed so much that finally his father had to give us this place. And he still owes some more. Are you their relative? Did you come to pay off the