The Painter From Shanghai – Jennifer Cody Epstein

Title: The Painter from Shanghai
Author: Jennifer Cody Epstein
ISBN: 9780393335316
Pages: 416
Release Date: March 31, 2008
Publisher: W.W, Norton & Co.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Review: TLC Book Tours
Rating: 4 out of 5

From the back cover:

Down the muddy waters of the Yangtze River, through the raucous glamour of prewar Shanghai and the bohemian splendor of 1920s Paris, and back to a China teetering on the brink of revolution: this is the epic story of Pan Yuliang, one of the most talented—and provocative—Chinese artists of the twentieth century.

The Painter from Shanghai is based on the real-life story of Pan Yuliang, a Chinese woman who lived an extraordinary life.  She went from being a prostitute to a renowned, albeit controversial, artist who won respect with her provocative paintings.  This novel is a fictionalized account of this amazing journey.

The paperback version of The Painter from Shanghai includes an afterword in which the author explains how she first encountered the artwork of Pan Yuliang.  She read a brief account of Pan Yuliang’s life and was inspired by it.  With her husband’s support, Pan Yuliang’s story became the basis of her first novel.  The fact that The Painter from Shanghai is based on a true story makes it even more compelling, knowing that a story such as this is possible.

The Painter from Shanghai is full of wonderful historical details that really make the reader feel as though they are in China.  Epstein clearly did a lot of research in order to write this novel.  Additionally, the descriptions of Pan Yuliang’s art are wonderful.  Epstein took great care to describe these paintings vividly; it is clear that she felt an emotional attachment to Pan Yuliang and wanted to do her and her paintings justice.  That bond comes through in the novel, as the reader feels emotionally attached to Pan Yuliang’s success as an artist.

Pan Yuliang herself is a wonderfully drawn character.  She is incredibly strong, and lives through horrors that no young girl should have to face.  Epstein also portrays Pan Yuliang’s need to be an artist very well.  The reader can sense her that painting fulfills some hole within her, something she never thought could be filled due to her awful past.

Admittedly, The Painter from Shanghai is a slow novel.  Though Pan Yuliang’s life was an eventful one, this is not a novel of explosions and loud bangs.  Instead, it’s a quiet and contemplative novel.  As a result, the plot can take some time to advance and sometimes loses its forward momentum.

The Painter from Shanghai is a well-written historical fiction novel that I recommend to any fans of Memoirs of a Geisha, or similar books.  If you liked that novel, you will enjoy this one as well.

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for arranging this wonderful tour!

Comments

  1. I really have to read this book. I keep seeing it around and all the reviews are so wonderful!

  2. I really have to read this book. I keep seeing it around and all the reviews are so wonderful!

  3. I am really interested in books set in China right now, but I am finding it hard to summon the patience necessary to get through slow books when there are so many other books vying for my attention.

  4. I am really interested in books set in China right now, but I am finding it hard to summon the patience necessary to get through slow books when there are so many other books vying for my attention.

  5. I really want to read this book because I love Asian settings and art. Great review, as always!

  6. I really want to read this book because I love Asian settings and art. Great review, as always!

  7. Thanks for the review. I won copies of this book for my book club a while back and we are looking forward to reading it.

  8. Thanks for the review. I won copies of this book for my book club a while back and we are looking forward to reading it.

  9. I read this about a year ago and enjoyed it, too. Good review.

  10. I read this about a year ago and enjoyed it, too. Good review.

  11. Hmm. The cover is beautiful and the story sounds interesting, but I intensely disliked ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’.

  12. Hmm. The cover is beautiful and the story sounds interesting, but I intensely disliked ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’.

  13. I’m reading this next week. Looks great. Can’t wait cause I loved Memoirs of Geisha.

  14. I’m reading this next week. Looks great. Can’t wait cause I loved Memoirs of Geisha.

  15. Memoirs of a Geisha is one of my favorite books. I love books about other cultures. I really loved your review- how you discussed the afterword and the wonderfully developed characters. I also like that you mentioned it was slow but a fulfilling read. I often put down slow books, but I am less inclined to if I know that the end result will be worth it.

  16. Memoirs of a Geisha is one of my favorite books. I love books about other cultures. I really loved your review- how you discussed the afterword and the wonderfully developed characters. I also like that you mentioned it was slow but a fulfilling read. I often put down slow books, but I am less inclined to if I know that the end result will be worth it.

  17. This sounds lovely…off to add it to my library list!

  18. This sounds lovely…off to add it to my library list!

  19. Glad you enjoyed this one. I absolutely loved it.

    –Anna
    Diary of an Eccentric

  20. Glad you enjoyed this one. I absolutely loved it.

    –Anna
    Diary of an Eccentric

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