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The Red Chamber

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


In this lyrical reimagining of the Chinese classic Dream of the Red Chamber, set against the breathtaking backdrop of eighteenth-century Beijing, the lives of three unforgettable women collide in the inner chambers of the Jia mansion. When orphaned Daiyu leaves her home in the provinces to take shelter with her cousins in the Capital, she is drawn into a world of opulent splendor, presided over by the ruthless, scheming Xifeng and the prim, repressed Baochai. As she learns the secrets behind their glittering façades, she finds herself entangled in a web of intrigue and hidden passions, reaching from the petty gossip of the servants’ quarters all the way to the Imperial Palace. When a political coup overthrows the emperor and plunges the once-mighty family into grinding poverty, each woman must choose between love and duty, friendship and survival.

In this dazzling debut, Pauline A. Chen draws the reader deep into the secret, exquisite world of the women’s quarters of an aristocratic household, where the burnish of wealth and refinement mask a harsher truth: marriageable girls are traded like chattel for the family’s advancement, and to choose to love is to risk everything. 

This ebook edition includes a Reading Group Guide.

From Publishers Weekly

Aug 13, 2012 – YA author Chen's debut novel for adults is a modern retelling of Cao Xueqin's 18th-century Chinese classic, Dream of the Red Chamber. While it doesn't hold a candle to the original in length or its Tolstoy-esque cast of characters, this revamped version retains much of its predecessor's spirit. Focusing mostly on three female characters once sequestered 17-year-old Daiyu, who is shipped off to live with her unknown rich relatives in Beijing after her mother's death; ornery 23-year-old Xifeng, whose husband conspicuously cheats on her; and matronly18-year-old Xue Baochai, an earnest shadow of a girl in love with Baoyu, Daiyu's charming cousin Chen (Peiling and the Chicken-Friend Christmas) plumps the epic tale full of lavish details of the palace, sumptuous feasts, and day-to-day minutiae, levitating whispered conversations overheard by the wrong parties, capricious scheming between family members, and gossip hidden beneath every elegant tapestry and beaded pillow to lofted heights. Aside from the entertaining love triangle between Daiyu, Baochai, and Baoyu, there's much to do about more serious matters, too especially in the latter half of the novel, when political unrest in Beijing threatens to destroy the family's tenuous hierarchy. For those familiar with the original, there's also a different ending. Supplemental material includes an author's note, the Jia family tree, and a list of major characters. First printing: 60,000.

Customer Reviews

Great read

I didn't really expect the ending. It was a surprise. This would make a good movie.

The red chamber

I came across this book by accident in the book shop.
What an incredibly well written, well researched and beautifully layout book.
I particularly enjoyed the diction and the short passages within each section of the book.
Thank you for writing this book. I am married to a Taiwanese Brit whose mother is a chinese history teacher and enjoys Chinese poetry. She herself grew up in a similar environment in China. To be able to enjoy this translation helped me to discuss and enjoy the culture even more. I certainly now understand my role as a daughter in law in a Chinese family.

Unexpectedly disappointing

I was thoroughly disappointed as to how she changed the story. She made the interesting parts dull. I completely hate the ending, and its very choppy. It needs another 700 pages to sound more complete. Either way the ending is just bad, and just as incomplete.

In terms of the style it was written, it's quite comprehensive to understand what's happening. But seriously it needs another 500 pages or so to make it sound more complete.

The Red Chamber
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  • $10.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Historical
  • Published: Jul 10, 2012
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 400 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings

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