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Threads of Silk

Narrated by: Leanne Yau
Length: 10 hrs and 51 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (3 ratings)
Non-member price: $36.20
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Publisher's Summary

Born in the middle of nowhere, Yaqian, a little embroidery girl from Hunan Province, finds her way to the imperial court, a place of intrigue, desire, and treachery. From the bed of an Emperor, the heart of a Prince, and the right side of an Empress, Yaqian weaves her way through the most turbulent decades of China's history and witnesses the fall of the Qing Dynasty.

©2016 Amanda Roberts (P)2017 Red Empress Publishing

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  • Margaret
  • 14-09-2017

Absolutely wonderful story !

What did you love best about Threads of Silk?

It is a lovely story that follows one main character from the age of six well into her senior years and also follows the historical events during that time period. The story peaked my interest in a place and time that I was unfamiliar with and I often found myself stopping the book to do a little side research to expand my knowledge. The main character was so well written and the story so nicely developed that it had me questioning whether this main character was a real person in history.

What other book might you compare Threads of Silk to and why?

Any book in Ken Follett's Pillars of Creation or Century trilogy. These books, as well as Threats of Silk, are wonderful stories intertwined amongst history to create a very realistic tale. The research that went into creating the characters and plot must've been astounding.

What does Leanne Yau bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Correct pronunciation of the places and people's in the story.

Another reviewer commented that Leanne Yau had an American accent, it is actually English. It was also mentioned that it was a disappointment that she spoke without a Chinese accent because the main character could not speak English. Personally, I do not have an issue with the fact that this book is narrated with an English accent because I speak English and I would not have understood the book if it was read to me in Chinese (which would be only way to stay true to a character that does not speak English).

Any additional comments?

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and voluntarily left this unbiased review

I would love to listen to another book by this author or narrator.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Nomi
  • 20-09-2017

❤️

A really beautiful book. Wonderfully well written characters and story that I loved. I took my time listening just so I didn't miss anything. I really loved the whole feel of this book. Very enjoyable.

The narrator did an awesome job. Wonderful performance.

This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Christine Newton
  • 01-09-2017

Fascinating story of mid-late 19th century China

Any additional comments?

This is the first historical fiction story that I've read which is set in mid- to late- 19th century China. Purists can sometimes be dismissive of historical fiction because of the creative license taken by authors when it comes to fact vs. fiction. I suppose I can understand their position, if readers end up with distorted or incorrect understanding of historical events. On the other hand, good historical fiction can spark an interest and curiosity that prompts readers to explore the topic in more depth on their own after the story ends - and that can be a wonderful rabbit hole to jump into...

And that's where I found myself after reading this book (during the book, too). A few times, I'd put the audiobook on pause so that I could do some more internet research about the actual people in the story - Parkes, Empress Dowager Cixi, Prince Gong, and more. I also did some browsing about foot binding, embroidery, the Boxer Rebellion, and Han vs Manchu Chinese. The tale of the heroine, an embroidery girl at Court, formed a narrative backbone that linked and launched all of my interesting research side trips. For sparking my curiosity and holding my interest throughout the book, I give this story full stars. The only reason why I deducted a star was because the protagonist had some flaws that made her less than admirable in my eyes. She's only human, of course, but I didn't really relate to her or engage emotionally with her. So I felt, as a reader, that I was outside looking in on her life and experiences. I could sympathize, but not empathize.

The narrator did a great job. As mentioned, this is my first foray into audio historical fiction from this place and time. So I was expecting an English speaking narrator with a Chinese accent. Instead, the narration was British-accented English. It picked at the back of my mind throughout the story - is this what an English speaking person in China would have sounded like, or is the accent British because that's the narrator's own voice? The protagonist in the story was an uneducated country-bred Chinese girl who couldn't speak English, so I couldn't really reconcile the narrator's tone with what I imagined to be an authentic voice of the protagonist. Regardless, the narrator spoke with a flowing tone and pace, and I enjoyed the sound of her voice. Sometimes it was hard to distinguish some of the speakers, but there were quite a few different female characters so I understand that it might be challenging to give each of them their own voice (I noticed this particularly when a female character was "freaking out" during a conversation). Aside from this, though, I'd certainly listen to this narrator again. I'm Canadian and I love hearing British accents!

Some other reviewers have commented about a few very graphic sex scenes in the story. There were only a few of them, and it's easy enough to fast forward to the end of those parts. If I were to change anything about the story, I would want an epilogue that extended the narrative for a little while longer, so we could learn what happened to our protagonist towards the end of her life. There were significant changes happening in China, after all. By the time we get to the final chapter, pretty much all of the main players in the story have exited from the stage and she has given her assets to her grandchild so she doesn't have much financial security. So, I'd have liked the author to have given us a little peek into her future.

Otherwise, I thought that this was a wonderful story and I'm not going to delete it from my audiobook library anytime soon.

"I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review."

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • ConnieZ
  • 19-09-2017

Wonderful story.....

What a wonderful story, it was very hard for me to put the book down.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • dawn
  • 14-09-2017

This was great

Any additional comments?

This audiobook was given to me for a honest unbiased review. This was great. The history gave the story and characters a depth to them. The amount of research for this is not astounding and well worth it, but gives an immersive experience. This was well written.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Jayde
  • 25-08-2017

All the drama of China’s history

This is an amazing story. If you have any interest in China’s history then this is a must read. The entire story is first person of a girl growing up in China and the transformations she goes through from choices forced upon her as well as her own good or bad decisions that have natural consequences. Amanda Roberts is an excellent storyteller and knows just how to keep her readers interest.

Leanne Yau does an excellent job reading this story. Her voice fits the characters and she can even pronounce the names that I would have no clue about if I were reading myself. I would call her accent a bit British but that is likely true of Asian English and so fits the story as well.

I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audio book by the author, narrator, or publisher.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Jason M.
  • 19-03-2019

worst

completely obnoxious voice, and the story turns into a porno out of nowhere. worst audio book I ever bought. voice sounds like she is ten years old but reading porn.

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  • Nonny
  • 17-03-2019

Enchanting story and narration

An enchanting story told from a fascinating perspective. Through Yaqian's (sp?) eyes, we hear details of daily life at the end of an era. I loved the details of time and place in this story--I won't list any examples here though (no spoilers!)

The narrator did a terrific job as well. I love the timbre of this narrator's voice. Her voice has a smooth cadence, not too fast, not too slow, and varied inflection that always keeps the story moving forward. She brings the different characters to life with different voices. I plan to search for other works she may have narrated, because the narration can really make or break a story and this one is a keeper!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 14-02-2019

Great story but needs a new narrator.

It was a great story but was really hard to get around the accent of the narrator.

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  • Ms M
  • 14-02-2019

An Engaging Tale

I read more history than historical fiction and “Threads of Silk” by Amanda Roberts and narrated by Leanne Yau reads like a historical biography of a woman living in extraordinary times. History and politics play as much of a role in the story as Yaqian’s personal journey. The story will most likely appeal most to those who already have an interest in politics and Chinese history.

Although Amanda Roberts clearly did her research there are still some historical errors. Most of the errors are relatively minor and don’t detract from the appeal of the story, but listeners should not treat the story as factual history.

Yaqian is an engaging and solid storyteller of her own life as she grows from a novice seamstress to a powerful woman within the Imperial Palace. She initially enters the Palace when her double-sided embroidery style attracts the Emperor’s attention although she comes to learn that it is not only her embroidery skills that interest him.

Roberts is meticulous in describing the setting and characters making it an excellent choice for an audiobook. The audiobook format with different voices for each character and differences in tone as the characters, particularly Yaqian, age helps solve the “laundry list” feel that can come with trying to write a character’s entire life.

Yau handles the mature scenes particularly well. Language that I might have found a cringe inducing if I was reading the book works in the audiobook. Yaqian’s naïveté and innocence in some early scenes is startling and Yau handles them with maturity resisting the urge to either overdo the emotion or sound robotic. I appreciated the vocal differences in her voice between Yaqian’s narration voice and Yaquian’s dialogue voice. Yau’s voice for the passages where Yaqian is narrating her life’s story is more calm, measured, and comfortable, fitting the fact that Taqian is remembering past events while the more emotional dialogue voice is her reacting to comments and events at the time.

The story does not shy away from showing the violence and problems of the time period without revelling in them. I found the balance generally tastefully done, but sensitive listeners may find some scenes upsetting.

The story’s biggest weakness is that there are points where the story stretches credibility with Yaqian being involved in too many important things. I found the last hour and a half or so less engaging than earlier parts, but that might be partly because I am more familiar with that part of history.

I requested and received a code to listen to the audiobook with a request to review it, but my opinions are my own.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 19-01-2019

Humility and Power in the forbidden city

Gorgeous story of a young woman whose life is changed when she is invited to live in the imperial court. Her humility never leaves her and this is amazingly voice acted.
It tells a story of power, not just from masculine lines, but through hard work, connectedness and diligence. The inner strength and courage that are portrayed, leave a resonance even after finishing listening.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Ana Silva
  • 15-12-2018

Goid read

Not super compelling, a light weight tale, read in a weird push English accent, with very weird regional vowel sounds.
But entertaining and nicely historical and rich.

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  • DubaiReader
  • 08-08-2018

As the Qing Dynasty draws to a close...

I thoroughly enjoyed the audio version of this book - when faced with unpronounceable names in a foreign language, the audio is often the best solution and Leanne Yau had a convincing Chinese accent.

The main character is Yaqian, just a child when she is removed from her rural home province and sent to an embroidery school. As a young girl she had enjoyed working in the fields, where she had loved caring for the silk worms, but when the time came for her feet to be bound, she had to stay indoors and learned embroidery instead. She worked on her first pair of dainty shoes, intending to wear them herself, but they were so beautiful that they were taken from her and sold.

Her skills became recognised and she gained a place at a prestigious embroidery school, where the sales of her work were to pay for her education. The daily rigours of the school are covered in quite extensive detail, including music and traditional dance.
Yaqian is always striving to improve and when she develops a technique that allows both sides of the embroidery to be perfect, she starts to excel beyond the skills of her master.

A piece of her work is sent as a gift to the Emperor's favourite concubine and suddenly she finds herself whisked away to the capital and to a new life in the Forbidden City.
Through Yaqian we partake in events from the late 1800s into the early twentieth century, as she becomes Imperial Concubine Yi's personal embroiderer. As Concubine Yi rises to become Empress Cixi, Yaqian stays loyal and eventually becomes a personal friend. The Qing Dynasty is drawing to a close and events become tense and worrying, yet Yaqian keeps her head and proves herself well beyond her skills as an embroiderer.
How cool is it that we can now visit this Forbidden City, where so much of China's history once played out?

The author has lived in China for the past eight years and speaks the language. She researched extensively for this novel and I found myself becoming very involved in the history of Chinese embroidery. There was also the inevitably uncomfortable section on the ancient practice of foot binding, so be warned.

An interesting novel to listen to, slow moving but never static. This would appeal to lovers of historical fiction and historical romance.