All the Flowers in Shanghai: Book summary and reviews of All the Flowers in Shanghai by Duncan Jepson

All the Flowers in Shanghai

A Novel

By Duncan Jepson

All the Flowers in Shanghai
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  • Published in USA  Dec 2011,
    320 pages.

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About this book

Book Summary

A sweeping debut novel set in 1930s Shanghai for fans of Lisa See, Empress, and Memoirs of a Geisha.

In 1930s Shanghai, following the path of duty takes precedence over personal desires for every young Chinese woman. 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 - she learns that fulfilling her duty means bearing a male heir.

Ruthless and embittered by a life that has been forced on her, Feng plots a terrible revenge. But as the years pass, she must come to a reckoning with the sacrifices and the terrible choices she has made to assure her place in family and society, before the entire country is engulfed in the fast-flowing tide of revolution.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[Jepson] does a solid job of voicing a female character." - Library Journal

"Despite the riveting story line, the novel suffers from awkward syntax, and its treatment of time (decades and wars are dismissed in single pages) hints at more familiarity with quickly moving screenplays than full-length fiction." - Publishers Weekly

"Simple but strong on detail and emotional intensity... An unremittingly bleak story, delivered with some passion." - Kirkus Reviews

"Jepson... evokes time and place well as he describes the life of privilege that Feng comes to take for granted only to have her life veer dramatically and be overtaken by the Great Leap Forward." - Booklist

"Poignant and elegantly written." - Romantic Times

"A beautifully poetic story. Duncan Jepson creates a poignant set of characters and follows the journey of one woman who attempts to stop the cycle of history in the only way she knows how, but with dire consequences." - Geling Yan, author of The Banquet Bug

"This story is breathtaking. Like a poem or a painting, it reveals the old Shanghai. It's a great work that will move its readers." - Hong Ying, international bestselling author of Daughter of the River

"The life of this novel's main character is splintered into thousands of pieces, each of them reflecting the changes of Chinese history, yet all of them coming out in Duncan Jepson's poetic, passionate writing." - Qiu Xiaolong, author of the Inspector Chen mysteries

"An accomplished first novel. Duncan Jepson magically inhabits the life of a young Chinese woman in 1930s Shanghai, following Feng's unlikely evolution from neglected second daughter to first wife of the rich and powerful Sang family and her unexpected epilogue. I thoroughly enjoyed this book." - Janice Y. K. Lee, New York Times bestselling author of The Piano Teacher

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Reader Reviews

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Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Louise J
All the Flowers in Shanghai
This was a great novel which I read in one sitting and would highly recommend it to anyone. For a debut novel it was well written.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Barbara P. (Worcester, MA)
All the Flowers of Shanghai
Amy Tan and Maxine Hong Kingston's ghosts speak and guide us in their familiar histories.
"Flowers in Shanghai" does not strive or accomplish any social mores of the Chinese tradition. The main character, Feng, didn't act out, is unemotional, and just hides in her room like a dormant flower.
Feng comes to the wealthy Sang family with no experience or with any practical advice. The only beauty in the story is the garden and her grandpa. Feng is the wounded, wilting, and uncaring mother instead of the customary heroine. She needs to plot action to grow. Or does Jepson want her to appear as a non-person showing the readers the prevailing attitude toward daughters in the East? He certainly accomplished this.
The historical fiction of the new modern era verses the old China seems to come too late into the story.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Elinor S. (Loudonville, NY)
All the Flowers in Shanghai
After recently reading Lisa Sea's two books about Flowers-"All the Flowers in Shanghai" was lacking depth. I never felt that the main characters actions were justified and never sympathized with her self pity. However, the book moved quickly and seemed historically correct. I must admit that I may have read too many "Shanghai stories" in too little time.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Martha D. (Poway, CA)
An interesting veiw into the past.
I have been interested in historical fiction for some time now and this was a interesting look into a period China I found fascinating. I found myself staying awake to find out what would happen. If you're looking for a look into another time and another place this book will take you there. A completely enjoyable read.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Hydee F. (Salt Lake City, Utah)
Slow going- ultimately an enjoyable read
I picked this book up and immediately put it down feeling uninspired to continue by the drab beginning. When I did finally pick it up, weeks later, it took on a better momentum and I found myself wanting to see what would happen next... While much of the book is predictable, and the characters seemed undeveloped I found it to be a compelling read once it got going. The story is remarkably sad, if not unfortunately, a realistic depiction of heartbreak in China during those years.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Terri M. (Jacksonville, FL)
Fascinating!
I love stories from other cultures, especially ones that follow the life of a central character and are historical in nature. All the Flowers in Shanghai was all of that and more. The book follows the life of Feng "the second daughter". From the minute I picked it up, I couldn't put it down, I had to find out what was happening to Feng and how she would handle it. So well written, I was sorry to see it end.

...18 more reader reviews

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More Information

More Information

Duncan Jepson is the award-winning director and producer of five feature films and documentaries that have been shown on the Discovery Channel Asia and National Geographic Channel. He has also edited two Asia-based magazines, the acclaimed West East Magazine and the Asia Literary Review. In 2005, Duncan established a charity, the Society for Children's Education in Asia, to support the Aschiana Accelerated Girls Learning Centre. He was a director of the Child Welfare Scheme, a charity supporting street kids and young mothers in Nepal. Most recently he established Share, a charity focused on providing opportunities to reduce social inequality among Hong Kong youth. Also a corporate lawyer, he lives in Hong Kong. To learn more about All the Flowers in Shanghai, visit www.alltheflowersinshanghai.com.

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