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Friday, September 4, 2015

LOVELY AND INTRIGUING NOVEL

THIS IS A BOOK REVIEW: Of the book titled: JADE DRAGON MOUNTAIN by Elsa Hart, 266 pages. Publisher is St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books of New York.

 

I received a copy to read through the Netgalley program in exchange for an honest and unbiased review which I am happy to share now.
 I would give this Five Stars as a well told story, interesting, and the author clearly knows her subject.
Publication date of this book is September 1, 2015.
It is in the genre of History, Literature and Fiction, adult.
This Book Review is posted by Anna Patterson. Writer, Journalist, Book Reviewer,   date to be set, 2015

This book starts with a piece of a letter written by a bookseller to his nephew who is part of a sailing ship crew. In this way, the story begins an intriguing tale which leads to a mystery and a murder during a time when people are gathering to be a part of festivities for the Emperor of China.
The author describes this point in time in the 1700s in many eloquent ways including in this passage, “The great connoisseurs of tea could take a sip and follow in their minds the entire journey of the leaves, a mapped trajectory of taste and fragrance.”
This book’s main character, Li Du, is a man who has become a wonderer by circumstances and because he is forced to become a refugee. He stops along the way to see a relative and finds signs that The Emperor of China is expected to this quaint community of Dayan. The man wants to immediately leave, but is detained by his relative needing his temporary help.  
The events the man becomes entangled in are set against a beautiful backdrop of the place which the author describes so well and the people who inhabit this rich and beautiful country. At one point one of the characters of the book explains his reason to enjoy travelling as: “The quarrels of emperors and kings do not reach the caravans.”
The man, Li Du, is drawn into deep conversations and finds himself more involved than he ever wanted to be there, but he is trying to rush forward and leave the intrigue and danger he finds in the town as it awaits the Emperor’s state visit.
 The book, Jade Dragon Mountain, holds more than one beautifully told story within it. The scholar travels far away from the place he had once lived and worked as a librarian in a priceless library of books. His journey is becoming entwined with a mysterious Jesuit Missionary and another guest at the Emperor’s official guest house.
Talks over the famous tea of the period continue and the stories of captivating memories are shared. As one traveler states, “The East India Company is the real Western Power now in this part of the world – everyone knows it – everyone outside of China, that is.”
In a description of the book, the story is about a Chinese librarian, Li Du, whose travels bring him to the town of Dayan, the last Chinese town before the border with Tibet. He finds himself unexpectedly part of a large group of travelers, soldiers and merchants, all of them expectant to see within just a few days an eclipse of the sun. Although Li Du wants to continue his journey over the Jade Dragon Mountain and out of China, he is pulled back by the murder of an astronomer and his own desire for truth.

     About the Author: Elsa Hart was born in Rome, Italy and lived in Moscow until 1991 with her family. She has lived in the Czech Republic, the United States, and in China.

     She wrote this, her first novel, in Lijiang, the city that has grown up around the old town of Dayan.

She earned a B.A. from Swarthmore College and a J.D. from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law.

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