The House of Wives

The House of Wives

Book - 2016
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Two women compete for the affections of their opium merchant husband in a tale of friendship, fortune, and rivalry in colonial Hong Kong. In 1862, a young Jew from Calcutta leaves his dutiful wife Semah and sets sail for Hong Kong to make his fortune in the opium trade and eventually falling in love with his Chinese business partner's daughter Pearl, a delicate beauty twenty years his junior. As a wedding present, he builds for her the most magnificent mansion in Hong Kong. Then Semah arrives unannounced to take her place as mistress of the house - and life will change irrevocably for all of them.
Publisher: Toronto :, Penguin,, 2016.
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9780670069477
Characteristics: 304 pages ;,23 cm.


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Mar 02, 2020

As the main character wasn't a likeable man I wasn't sure about this story. It really picked up when the women came on the scene and I did enjoy it.
It was interesting to read that it was based on reality with fiction filling in
the gaps where info was not available.

Jan 29, 2018

this book was a page turner 5 star

Mar 22, 2017

Choa-Johnston writes beautifully. Each of the characters has a distinct voice and the historical setting is vivid. There were a few plot points that I found uncomfortable and ultimately made Emanuel's character distasteful to me. So, the first part of the book focusing on him was less engaging.

However, by the second half, the wives of the title meet and the book starts to come alive. I admit I had a hard time putting it down because I became interested in the development of their very complicated relationship.

Nov 10, 2016

I really enjoyed this novel and read it in a day. The characters were interesting, strong-willed individuals from another era. I found the author's notes at the end very interesting as well.

Jun 09, 2016

Thanks for your encouraging review. Thanks to readers and libraries across the country, HoW has hit the Globe And Mail's best seller list. As a Surrey writer, I hope my local branches will select it for their book clubs.

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