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Publisher's Summary

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.

Critic Reviews

"Narrator Emily Woo Zeller delivers a riveting performance of Estes's ambitious debut novel." ( AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    1,642
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  • 3 Stars
    437
  • 2 Stars
    119
  • 1 Stars
    45

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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  • 4 Stars
    908
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    373
  • 2 Stars
    119
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    47

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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  • 2 Stars
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    43
Sort by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Claudine
  • ESCONDIDO, CA, United States
  • 12-04-15

Very intriguing

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.

44 of 47 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Debbie
  • Toney, Alabama
  • 12-11-15

1880s Washington Territory and Chinese Exclusion

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 . . .

75 of 82 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Is it me?

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.

44 of 49 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Melodramatic & too many coincidences

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.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Not Completely Historic, more Romantic

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.

14 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Beautiful fiction based on fact

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.

15 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Crudeness and Interesting story

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.

53 of 69 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Mollie
  • United States
  • 12-11-15

Mixed emotions

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

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!

If you’ve listened to books by Kelli Estes before, how does this one compare?

No

What about Emily Woo Zeller’s performance did you like?

Her pacing was good. She had excellent energy. Her different character voices were not overly done.

Did The Girl Who Wrote in Silk inspire you to do anything?

Learn more about the Chinese culture in Seattle

Any additional comments?

I wanted to find out more about what Kenneth's life was like. That's really overlooked.

24 of 31 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Howard
  • Cumberland, MD, United States
  • 08-24-16

Historical(ish) fiction. Learned and Enjoyed

Before listening to 'The Girl Who Wrote in Silk' I was unaware of the expulsion of Chinese immigrants from the United States. This book also includes a couple of accidental romance stories, examples of just how small the world can be and the importance of holding unto our family and cultural heritages. This is a book with plenty to enjoy!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

a bit much

Would you try another book from Kelli Estes and/or Emily Woo Zeller?

The story was interesting, but was had a number unbelievable/unrealistic events, large and small. The author had an excellent premise for this book and it made me consider a part of history of which I knew little. I want to know more about this time. Her use of physical description to convey emotion was overbearing. There were at least 2 dozen episodes "lumps", or "bile" that "rose in her throat", and just as many instances where "her breath was sucked out of her lungs". I listened to a large part of this book on a long car ride with my mother and we eventually started laughing at these frequent bodily references.

What three words best describe Emily Woo Zeller’s performance?

Her inflection to convey every emotion was exaggerated. It became overbearing and distracting, and I actually looked forward to the end of the book for this reason. The narrator had an excellent range of voices for each character.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful