The Concubine's Children

The Concubine's Children

Portrait of A Family Divided

Book - 1994
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Finalist for the 1994 Governor General's Award

The Concubine's Children is the story of a family cleaved in two for the sake of a father's dream. There's Chan Sam, who left an "at home" wife in China to earn a living in "Gold Mountain"--North America. There's May-ying, the wilful, seventeen-year-old concubine he bought, sight unseen, who labored in tea houses of west coast Chinatowns to support the family he would have in Canada, and the one he had in China. It was the concubine's third daughter, the author's mother, who unlocked the past for her daughter, whose curiosity about some old photographs ultimately reunited a family divided for most of the last century.

Publisher: Toronto : Viking, 1994
ISBN: 9780143056195
Branch Call Number: 971.1004951022 Cho 3204 01
Characteristics: xi, 266 p. : ill


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Dec 28, 2015

An excellent history of life for a Chinese immigrant to Canada. His strength of character kept him going. Well worth reading.

Jun 04, 2015

Not non-fiction, but an imagined retelling of the author's grandparents' life. A compelling story of immigration to Canada, even if the prose is barely adequate.

Oct 19, 2012

I loved this book. In addition to the well researched history lesson alluded to in the previous comment, the lives of the individual family members were so dramatic, I couldn't put it down. I highly recommend it!

Oct 01, 2011

Wow! What a phenomenal read! This book of non-fiction traces the family history of Ms. Chong's maternal side, and details how this side of her family was divided between China and Canada. A great history lesson about Vancouver and Nanaimo's Chinatowns, Canada's treatment of Chinese immigrants, and of the hardships faced in China. A must-read.

hermlou Apr 03, 2010

Interesting true story of a Chinese man who came to Canada with his concubine. Chinese culture in China is transported to Vancouver's Chinatown, but future generations modify it. The author compares the concubine's two older daughters' lives in China with the youngest daughter's life in Canada.

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