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Thousand Pieces of Gold | [Ruthanne Lum McCunn]

Thousand Pieces of Gold

Lalu Nathoy's father called his thirteen-year-old daughter his treasure, his "thousand pieces of gold," yet when famine strikes northern China in 1871, he is forced to sell her. Polly, as Lalu is later called, is sold to a brothel, sold again to a slave merchant bound for America, auctioned to a saloonkeeper, and offered as a prize in a poker game. This biographical novel is the extraordinary story of one woman's fight for independence and dignity in the American West.
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Publisher's Summary

Lalu Nathoy's father called his thirteen-year-old daughter his treasure, his "thousand pieces of gold," yet when famine strikes northern China in 1871, he is forced to sell her. Polly, as Lalu is later called, is sold to a brothel, sold again to a slave merchant bound for America, auctioned to a saloonkeeper, and offered as a prize in a poker game. This biographical novel is the extraordinary story of one woman's fight for independence and dignity in the American West.

©2004 Ruthann Lum McCunn (P)2013 Audible Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (133 )
5 star
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3.6 (117 )
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4.0 (115 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Susie Santa Cruz, CA, United States 04-28-14
    Susie Santa Cruz, CA, United States 04-28-14 Member Since 2012

    I'm Audible's first Editor-at-Large, the host of In Bed with Susie Bright -- and a longtime author, editor, journo, and bookworm. I listen to audio when I'm cooking, playing cards, knitting, going to bed, waking up, driving, and putting other people's kids to bed! My favorite audiobooks, ever, are: "True Grit" and "The Dog of the South."

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Women's Studies Classic"

    This historic novel, based on a true story, brings to life the often untold story of a woman’s Chinese immigrant experience.

    During a famine, adored daughter, Lalu, is sold into slavery to save the family, re-sold and brought by a madame to America, sold again to gamblers, and then gains her freedom through a benefactor in a poker game.

    Let me say this again: this was a true story!

    There are many passages describing life in the new world and mining camps that show how brutal and hard life in China, then Idaho was. It would be easy to assume that Lalu, re-named “Polly” was as passive as those thousand pieces of gold she’s compared to, but she’s made of stronger stuff. She’s treated like a commodity, but retains a solid core and determination to find freedom and happiness, which eventually, she does.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Houston, TX, United States 05-01-15
    David Houston, TX, United States 05-01-15 Member Since 2008

    Actor/director/teacher. Split my time between Beijing and Seattle now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving or riding my bike.

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    "Disjointed account of an extraordinary life"

    Clearly Lalu (later Polly) Nathoy was an extraordinary woman. Sold into slavery by bandits in China, she survived and ended up thriving in the hostile, alien Idaho frontier at the turn of the last century. Unfortunately this fictionalized account of her life is fragmented and disjointed as well as being somewhat sentimental and less than artful stylistically. Perhaps the author could not find enough reliable material to tell the story with the continuity and depth it deserved and did not want to invent enough to fill in the huge gaps, sometimes of a decade or more. In that case, straight historical reportage would have been preferable to giving us neither the simple facts nor a satisfying story arc. The narrative as is leaves the reader thinking, "Hunh? What happened in between?" The episodes which make up the book are often fascinating; still I would not recommend it, though I would love to read more about the resourceful and inspiring heroine.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Debbie Toney, Alabama 02-23-15
    Debbie Toney, Alabama 02-23-15 Member Since 2013

    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.

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    "From China to San Francisco to Idaho TRUE GRIT"

    Excellent historical fiction based on the life of a young Chinese woman sold into slavery by her own father. This story of Lalu Nathoy, later renamed Polly, who was sold to bandits, then sold to a madam, and sent to America is a true story. Poor decisions made by her father and broken promises never forgotten by Lalu, nevertheless did not break her spirit. And she continued to fight for her own freedom in a new and confusing land. She found love and security with Charlie Bemis at a time in American history that the Chinese people were not valued (late 1800s, early 1900s) or given the right to own property. And her gentle, healing care became known throughout the entire region as she was sought out by neighbors and townspeople when they were ill. I would love to visit central Idaho and the Salmon River where she and Charlie made their home. It's a National Historic Landmark now where Polly Bemis is honored as a pioneer among American women.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard Lockport, NY, United States 03-24-14
    Richard Lockport, NY, United States 03-24-14 Member Since 2010
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    "Stunningly excellent both story and narration"

    I did not have high expectations when I ordered this book, but i was seriously mistaken. This may be the one of the best stories I have read in years, and it is wonderfully narrated.
    It is not often that passages can move me to tears or fury, but McCunn pulls you in. She paints a wonderful canvas of time, place and person.
    This is truly a masterful piece of writing. Enjoy it as I did.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    toffeepop Upper Hutt, New Zealand 02-12-14
    toffeepop Upper Hutt, New Zealand 02-12-14 Member Since 2008
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    "Worth the Listen"
    What made the experience of listening to Thousand Pieces of Gold the most enjoyable?

    The narrator was very good and believable.


    What did you like best about this story?

    How real it all sounded


    Which character – as performed by Emily Zeller – was your favorite?

    They were all performed very very well


    Who was the most memorable character of Thousand Pieces of Gold and why?

    Polly....that no matter what, she never gave up making the most of her life


    Any additional comments?

    I enjoyed this book very much, although in places it is sad, but through it all you have the unshakable spirit of the main character.This book is a biography but far from dry.It has been written with compassion, and spirit, and the narrator has managed to convey that perfectly.I can highly recommend this book.Well worth the listen

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    nray57 SPRINGFIELD, MO, US 01-07-15
    nray57 SPRINGFIELD, MO, US 01-07-15 Member Since 2014

    nray57

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    "Had me at the beginning then kind of lost me."

    The telling of this story became kind of strange to me after a while. The beginning really drew me in, until about the time she ended up in America. Then, it seemed to be several really detailed descriptions of random events - sometimes many, many, years apart. I feel like I lost the emotional connection that I had in the beginning, and was wondering where the story was going. I felt like it could have been so much more given better pacing, if that is the correct term. Too much detail in some areas, and not enough in others - most specifically, why did she make the critical decision about family? In the end, I found myself wanting to know more about the person, and less about specific things that happened.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mandi 03-15-15
    Mandi 03-15-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Average"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    This book is way down my list of books to recommend. It touches on an interesting aspect of history, but it didn't wow me. It was one that I put down several times before making it to the end.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Aimee 03-08-15
    Aimee 03-08-15 Member Since 2014
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    "A disappointing story"
    Would you try another book from Ruthanne Lum McCunn and/or Emily Zeller?

    I do not think I would read another book by Ruthanne Lum McCunn. The storyline was too predictable and not at all sophisticated. Emily Zeller's narration was not bad. I would listen to other book read by her.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Ruthanne Lum McCunn again?

    NO.


    Any additional comments?

    I wouldn't bother with this book. It also isn't very historically accurate.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Ngui 12-31-14
    John Ngui 12-31-14 Member Since 2015
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    "unable to put it down, loved it.."

    really liked this book. gave me a better understanding of life at this time in history.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ruthy 12-06-14
    Ruthy 12-06-14
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    "More like an outline for a novel, not a novel"
    What was most disappointing about Ruthanne Lum McCunn’s story?

    This book felt like the broadest of strokes...a rough sketch. It did not do a good job of going into any depth, any detail at all. Things happen with little explanation. Whole years as a mining town saloon girl pass with no details at all. It seems like the story has so much potential if told well. I got about half way through and finally had to give up.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    The narrator did a great job. She had a smooth voice with good inflection and she did her best to make a lackluster book come to life. She just didnt have much to work with.


    Any additional comments?

    Let me sum it up in this way: I purchased this book on sale for $5. I still feel like I was cheated.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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