The smallest items can hold centuries of secrets.
Inara Erickson is exploring her deceased aunt's island estate when she finds an elaborately stitched piece of fabric hidden in the house. As she peels back layer upon layer of the secrets it holds, Inara's life becomes interwoven with that of Mei Lein, a young Chinese girl mysteriously driven from her home a century before. Through the stories Mei Lein tells in silk, Inara uncovers a tragic truth that will shake her family to its core - and force her to make an impossible choice.
Inspired by true events, Kelli Estes' brilliant and atmospheric debut serves as a poignant tale of two women determined to do the right thing and the power of our own stories.
©2015 Kelli Estes (P)2015 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"Narrator Emily Woo Zeller delivers a riveting performance of Estes's ambitious debut novel." (AudioFile)
Retired CFO, Army wife, Mom of five, Grandma of six, two sons who served in combat, love to read books that reflect my values and faith, love mysteries, historical, military stories, and books that don't waste my time . . . if it doesn't have an ending that was worth the wait, I'm not a happy camper.
Before listening to The Girl Who Wrote in Silk, I had never heard of the Chinese Exclusion Act . . . as many Chinese immigrated to the US, they were instrumental in the completion of the transcontinental railroad, they worked in the mining industry and became respected, hard working members of American society . . . then as the economy weakened, and employment became scarce, the Chinese were increasingly discriminated against . . . the story, based on historical facts, moves between current day and the late 1800s . . . set on an island in Puget Sound off Washington State . . . It is a tale of longing and love between a parent and a child, transcending generations, and it reaches through the ages . . . don't miss it . . .
I enjoyed the mystery, the historical lessons and the tragic and healing aspects of this story. Although fiction, it was based on some historical events that took place in the United States. I thought the author did a great job weaving the past and present together in such an intriguing manner. It was definitely and enjoyable read/listen.
Granted, I am only about halfway through this book but I believe I am going to abandon. I was hoping for some interesting history about the Chinese in the U.S. in the 1800's and perhaps some intrigue but am instead reading a romance novel. This 'couldn't deny the electric jolt when touching' stuff just isn't for me. Not crazy about the narrator either. Every sentence can't be THAT dramatic. That's my take.
It is a rare book written today that is not littered with foul language on every page but this is one. The story is based upon a little known prejudiced and hateful society that raged on the northern West Coast of our country. I knew Chinese immigrants were used to build the railroads but did not realize the depth of the hatred. Tied with the stories of the generations of the two families the mystery and exposure evolves.
The reader used no accent for the Chinese speakers but did for the German and Irish which was strange to me. I suspect this was done due to the volume of a Chinese dialect would hamper the ease of listening to an audio book. This glitch could easily be remedied in a film which I assume will be produced. The story is too interesting not to make a movie of it.
I enjoyed the narration, but there were parts of the story that were problematic. The novel works between two time periods: 1886-1895 and present day. The historical portion of the book is really good, but the present day is where a few problems arise. The character readers are supposed to hate from the historical period was despicable, but I ended up hating the main character's father much more!
Her pacing was good. She had excellent energy. Her different character voices were not overly done.
Learn more about the Chinese culture in Seattle
I wanted to find out more about what Kenneth's life was like. That's really overlooked.
I can find a book to love in any genre -- a beautifully written classic, an interesting mystery or sci-fi, a trashy romance. Bring it!
STORY (historical fiction) - Loved this book! It has two timelines alternating back and forth. One is around 1885 and is set in the islands around Seattle, Washington. It is about Mei Lein (May Lynn) who is a Chinese immigrant. You will hear the story of her life, which mirrors the story of many Chinese immigrants to the U.S. in that time period. Wow, I had no idea this stuff happened! I also loved the bits of Chinese culture.
The second timeline is present day in and around the same area. The main character here is Inara Erickson, who finds an oriental embroidered sleeve buried under the staircase in her aunt's home after her aunt dies. The sleeve obviously portrays the details of someone's life, and Inara sets out to find who that person might be.
So, yeah, you guessed it. Mei Lein embroidered the sleeve that Inara finds. But I'm not giving much away by telling you that because you would figure that out on your own very early in the book. But what you won't get to experience (unless you listen to this book) is the wonderful way the story is revealed by the alternating timelines. It's just magical. (Reminds me of Kate Morton books if you're familiar with them). And there's a romance in each timeline so you get to enjoy two! The romances aren't the main thrust of either story, but they are still integral to the whole book. And the way the two timelines reveal the truth is fascinating. The 1885 timeline is revealed moving progressively forward to the present, and in the present-day timeline Inara investigates the mystery of the sleeve from bits of history she finds of its past. Occasionally things happen a little too "perfectly" and I would think "Oh, yeah, what are the chances of that really happening that way," but this is fiction, and it makes for a great story.
And finally, you will love the characters. My favorite is Joseph, Mei Lein's husband. He is so wonderful and devoted to her, despite all the challenges he had with her being a Chinese immigrant. And then to top everything off, the author's note at the end of the book explains her inspiration for writing this book.
PERFORMANCE - Great job. She does male and female voices equally well, which is a challenge for a female narrator.
OVERALL - Highly recommend, mostly for women because the main characters are female and because of the romances. There is no sex (the romances are very tasteful and vague). There is also no cursing or violence.
Ms Estes has written a novel with the base of a really intersting historical story interwoven with current-day threads. I was distracted by the forays into romance, and noted several places where characters acted or felt in ways that didn't fit into the story or into fact.Since the overall rating for this book reflects excellent writing, I thought it necessary to report my summary: the story is interesting, the reading average and the writing of the book below par.
Thoroughly enjoyed the passages between history and the present day, especially because it addresses an issue not well known if you don't live in the Pacific Northwest. A little disappointed by the apparent need to add "romance" to the present day scenario to tie the storyline together.
I wanted to like this book as the plot was very appealing. I enjoy stories that go back and forth between a historical time period and current day. It is interesting how the past affects the present. This book started off okay but went downhill fast. It was over-melodramatic and the coincidences towards the end were just too much (unbelievable). I finished it but spent most of the time rolling my eyes as I listened.
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