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Formats
Hardcover Details
  • 06/2021
  • 978-962-7866-54-1
  • 436 pages
  • $26.99
Paperback Details
  • 06/2021
  • 978-962-7866-55-8
  • 436 pages
  • $18.99
Ebook Details
  • 06/2021
  • 978-962-7866-56-5 B0928B384N
  • 436 pages
  • $4.99
Larry Feign
Author
The Flower Boat Girl
Larry Feign, author

Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Publish)

A biographical novel based on the life of Cheng Yat Sou (Cheng I Sao), the 19th century Chinese prostitute who became the most powerful pirate in history. Sold as a child to a floating brothel, then kidnapped by pirates and forced to marry their leader, Shek Yang must find her own way in a world of violence, treachery, and greed, ultimately facing a choice between two things she never dreamed might be hers: power or love. The first time her story has been fully told in any language.
Reviews
Feign, the cartoonist and writer, immerses readers in this historical fiction based on the life of a nineteenth-century sex worker who is kidnapped by pirates—and later marries one of their number. In early 19th century China, Shek Yang is sold into prostitution by her father and eventually kidnapped by pirate captain Cheng Yat, the “a sea scum bandit” who forces her into marriage and gives her the name Cheng Yat Sou— “Cheng Yat’s honored wife.” She endures rape by her husband, becomes pregnant despite seeking preventive measures, and yearns for freedom. Cheng Yat Sou nevertheless uses her intelligence and business acumen to achieve tremendous success as his business partner in a profitable pirate confederation.

The fast-paced plotting, focused on the tenacity of a woman who survives horrific circumstances, and Feign’s evocative prose and attention to detail quickly makes the narrative compelling: “Maybe only prison was more colorless, boring, and worm-ridden than spending day after day on a moving ship, but at least prison offered shelter from late summer sun and squall,” the protagonist memorably declares. Feign endows his characters with persuasive voices, illuminating the driving forces behind their cutthroat choices and imbuing their histories with meaning and depth. Convincing historic detail regarding maritime life, the 19th century economy, and the story’s far-flung locations brings life to a world of seafaring danger and struggles for dominance. The abuse elements of the narrative are handled with sensitivity.

While some historical novels seem so rooted in the past that their relevance is not clear to present day readers, Feign shrewdly ties his narrative of 19th century China to contemporary life by focusing on how relationships are shaped by circumstance and experiences. References to poetry and thought-provoking insights (“You can’t sail backward, so why worry about the waves behind you?”) add lyricism as this story of a woman’s resilience surges toward a conclusion that will satisfy lovers of thoughtful historical fiction.

Takeaway: A compelling novel of the resilience of a 19th-century woman forced into marriage to a pirate.

Great for fans of: Lisa See’s The Island of Sea Women, Amy Stanley’s Stranger in the Shogun’s City: A Japanese Woman and her World.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A

Asian Review of Books

One cannot mention historical fiction set in the early 19th-century South China Sea without bringing to mind James Clavell’s Tai-Pan. Feign’s work bears comparison both in its historical and geographical sweep, as well as in its readability and attention to regional historical detail.

South China Morning Post

Readers who enjoy a swashbuckling yarn will be glad Feign persisted in disinterring Cheng Yat Sou. (He) convincingly renders Cheng’s stranger-than-fiction trajectory to pirate royalty, punctuated by ripe Cantonese profanity.

Formats
Hardcover Details
  • 06/2021
  • 978-962-7866-54-1
  • 436 pages
  • $26.99
Paperback Details
  • 06/2021
  • 978-962-7866-55-8
  • 436 pages
  • $18.99
Ebook Details
  • 06/2021
  • 978-962-7866-56-5 B0928B384N
  • 436 pages
  • $4.99

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