You know I’m a huge fan of author Amanda Hughes and her Bold Women Series. She writes her historical novels with such sensitivity and emotion. If you are not familiar with this author, your time has come.
While Xiu peddled pipe dreams, a nightmare was waiting.
Sensual and exotic, San Francisco’s Chinatown in the 1870’s was filled with temptation and greed. Raised in this quagmire of vice, Xiu Jung caters to wealthy thrill-seekers with her elegant opium den, The House of Five Fortunes. With the help of Madison Hayes, the illustrious actor, she makes it the most fashionable salon on the West Coast. But a string of murders is sweeping the city, coming closer and closer to Xiu. Madison said he would protect her, but could this mysterious outsider be trusted?
From Chinatown to Deadwood, Amanda Hughes once again takes you on a page-turning adventure of a lifetime.
I can’t imagine the time this author spends in her research of these time periods and specifically the people of this 1867-1876 narrative regarding the Chinese community in San Francisco. The eldest of the three children of foster parents Day, Xiu (she-you) was often called upon to help with her two younger siblings, her own sister Lei, and Peter, an issue of both the pastor and Dolly Day.
Her mother had set up a thriving business and when Xiu lost both foster parents, took over raising her sister and brother as well as work in the House. Later with successful but mysterious actor Madison Hayes who financially backs a remodel, they create an exclusive and fashionable salon. Unfortunately, as her siblings’ age, they each become problems about the same time anti-Chinese sentiment begins to manifest in overt hostilities.
The author weaves such a dramatic tale of the old west, San Francisco in the height of the Barbary Coast days (from which many a sailor was shanghaied), when brothels, gambling dens, opium houses, and saloons went wild with sailors disembarking in search of good times and the gold strikes burgeoned the city with a population ill-prepared to handle the growth. Chinatown had long looked to protection from the two major tongs in power. Fashions evolved, hotels built with opulence in mind catered to the wealthy, and commerce was exploding. The atmosphere of the city is laid open, raw with the sights, smells, and the cacophony of development.
A crisis with Peter forces a change in direction from which recovery may not be capable, but evolves the relationship with Michael–another very dangerous development. The reader is immersed with the engaging and well-developed characters, both main and support characters, the strongly atmospheric tale swirling in your head, creates the mind-movie. It’s easy to become so involved, you are holding your breath. Dialogue pulses with accent nuance and the reader becomes totally invested. A favorite quote said by her father to Xiu:
“I’m not in charge of the light inside you, Xiu. You are. Don’t wait for someone else to come along and light your lamp.”
I received this well-plotted and fast-paced ebook download from the author with no expectation of a review, although it’s a book I thoroughly enjoyed and wanted to share. In fact, I also shared it with my associate reviewer and the CE loved it as well. Now it’s up to you.
Transcontinental railroad work attracted immigrants from many parts of the world. Pastor and Dolly Day were a couple who followed the construction and proselytized to the construction crews. Our protagonist, a Chinese immigrant child and her sister were adopted by the Days after a tragic fire killed their parents. The world was a wide-open cold mountainous area for the children.
Xiu as well as all of the associated characters in this novel are well developed and loved and admired or despised and castigated. The strength and fortitude of character is beautiful to behold. Recognition of the characters and their attraction brings to light the pathos of the situation.
Going from “end of the rails towns” up the western side of the Sierra Nevada the foster children stayed with their parents. Dolly Day had learned how to run a business as a madam and was very good at it. The plight of the Chinese immigrants as the tunnels were carved in the Sierra Nevada mountains was a terrifying and dangerous life. Blasters were lowered on ropes from the higher areas and drilled holes and then filled them with black powder prior to signaling to be pulled up. Sometimes the crew pulling them up was not quick enough and the explosion would kill the blast workers.
Prejudice was rampant and marrying between whites and Asians was strictly forbidden. The Chinese could not mix with the whites and had to eat and sleep in separate quarters. After the completion of the railroad, the Chinese workers were not even allowed to ride the trains home they had helped build, and many areas in San Francisco forbid the Chinese immigrants from entering.
Amanda Hughes paints a very enlightening picture of the turmoil and struggles of these Chinese adopted children in the California frontier. The few Chinese women in California were relegated to whore houses or areas strictly segregated with Chinese. This book is a treasure of enlightened understanding of the early years in California and the hatred and prejudice toward the Chinese.
The House of Five Fortunes is an opium den where Dolly Day is able to establish a thriving business. The girls learn to read and write English and are not familiar with their native language. Many twists and difficult times face these young girls. They are treated with respect by the Chinese but segregated from the white population who would rather they went back to China.
This book is an excellent example of the trials that were endured by many groups; Irish, Italians, Germans and of course the Chinese. The humanity that Amanda writes into her historical novel puts this tale into a class of history which every schoolchild should read. I came away with a feeling of sorrow and amazement at the resilience of these early ethnic groups. This five-star read has a terrific moral! 5/5 stars C.E. Williams
Genre: Multicultural and Interracial Romance, Asian American Literature and Fiction
Publisher: Lillis and Jaymes
- ASIN: B01L7BW79M
Print Length: 325 pages
Publication Date: August 28, 2016
Source: Author request
Title Link: The House of Five Fortunes
The Author: Bestselling and award-winning author, Amanda Hughes is a “Walter Mitty”, spending more time in heroic daydreams than the real world. At last, she found an outlet writing adventures about bold women through the centuries. Well known for her genre-busting books, she is the winner of the Gems National Medal for Writing, featured in USA Today and is nominated for the 2017 Minnesota Book Award. Amanda is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, and when she isn’t off tilting windmills, she lives and writes in Minnesota. Don’t miss these page-turning novels for readers who like historical fiction with a just bit of a love story. All of her books are stand-alone and can be read in any order.
The Bold Women of the 17th Century: The Firefly Witch Book 1
The Bold Women Series of the 18th Century: Beyond the Cliffs of Kerry Book 1 The Pride of the King Book 2 The Sword of the Banshee Book 3
The Bold Women Series of the 19th Century: The Grand Masquerade Book 1 Vagabond Wind Book 2 The House of Five Fortunes Book 3
The Bold Women Series of the 20th Century: The Looking Glass Goddess Book 1
Interested in her new books or a free novelette? Go to http://www.amandahughesauthor.com
©2019 V Williams