Meet the Last Empress-Regent of China

June 20, 2017

The Last Emperor of China was Pu-Yi, but he never had the power of an emperor. Pu-Yi was born in 1906 and became emperor in 1908 when he was two-years old. His Empress was Wanrong and she was also born in 1906.  Pu-Yi married Wanrong in 1922 when they were both 16, ten years after the end of the Qing Dynasty. Wanrong might have technically been the last empress of China but she never had the power of one.

The real Last Empress of China was the Empress Dowager Tzu Hsi (Cixi). She ruled the Qing Dynasty as a coregent after her husband, the Xianfeng Emperor died in 1861, because her son, The Tongzhi Emperor (1856 – 1875), was too young to rule.

Tzu Hsi was the last empress to rule China as a regent. Pu-Yi was in a branch of the Manchu Aisin Gioro clan with close ties to Empress Dowager Cixi, who was from the Manchu Yehenara clan.

Sterling Seagrave, the author of Dragon Lady, wrote, “Absurdly little was known about her (Cixi) life. The New York Times printed a long, error-filled obituary calling her Tzu An, the title of her coregent, who had died twenty-seven years earlier.”

Many current history texts have slandered the Dowager Empress Tzu Hsi (1835 – 1908) without much evidence as one of history’s most monstrous women, a ruthless Manchu concubine who seduced and allegedly murdered her way to the throne in 1861 to rule China through perversion, corruption, and intrigue.

She was even accused of murdering her son and then years later her nephew, who died the day before she did.

Instead, the evidence suggests her son died of syphilis because it was alleged he preferred prostitutes to the hundreds of concubines that were his property, young virgins that were selected for their beauty.

The allegations that Tzu Hsi was a monster was started by Edmund Backhouse, a reporter working in China for The London Times. His lies and deceit wouldn’t be discovered until Sterling Seagrave was doing research for his book about Tzu Hsi.

Backhouse’s journalistic fraud is still used as the foundation of most history textbooks that continue to slander Tzu Hsi.

To do Tzu Hsi justice and to discover the truth, read Seagrave’s Dragon Lady, The Life and Legend of the Last Empress of China.

Also, read what Robert Hart wrote about her in his letters and journals.  Robert Hart arrived in China from Ireland in 1854 to work as an interpreter for the British consulate in Ningpo. Five years later Hart quit that job and went to work for the Emperor of China. He didn’t retire and return to England until 1908.

Hart was Inspector General of Chinese Maritime Customs and worked closely with the Imperial ministers and Manchu princes. Before returning to England, he met with the Dowager Empress in a private audience where witnesses said she cried.

Hart referred to Tzu Hsi as “the Buddha” and later “the old Buddha,” because she was a devout Buddhist.

Hart, who is considered the Godfather of China’s modernization, at no time indicated in anything he wrote that Tzu Hsi was conspiratorial, sinister, or manipulative. However, he did indicate that she was strong-willed and hot-tempered, clever, and had ability. In fact, it’s obvious from what he wrote about her that he thought of her with affection and admiration.

Tzu Hsi died in 1908 a few weeks after Robert Hart left China. China’s last Imperial Dynasty, the Qing Dynasty, collapsed in 1911.

Discover Wu Zetian, China’s only female emperor

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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The Value of Virtue in Chinese Culture – Part 2 of 2

May 17, 2017

My life didn’t start when I became eligible for Social Security and/or Medicare. In fact, I worked for forty-five years starting at fifteen washing dishes and ended a thirty-year career at sixty as an overworked and underpaid, ‘often verbally abused’ teacher in California’s public schools.

I am a former U.S. Marine who fought in Vietnam. After the Marines I went to college on the GI Bill and spent close to a decade attending universities to earn an Associate-of-Science degree, a BA in journalism, and finally an MFA in writing. I even worked as a public school teacher for thirty of those years often working 60 – 100 hours a week sometimes arriving at the school where I taught as early as six in the morning.  In addition, in China teachers are respected; not abused.

Confucius ( BC 551 – 479) said, “The reason why the gentleman teaches filial piety is not because it is to be seen in the home and everyday life. He teaches filial piety in order that man may respect all those who are fathers in the world. … He teaches brotherliness in the younger brother, in order that man may respect all those who are elder brothers in the world. He teaches the duty of the subject, in order that man may respect all who are rulers in the world.”

Both Taoism (also known as Daoism) and Confucianism stress the importance of paying proper respect to elders, especially parents and grandparents, and deceased ancestors are honored with various ceremonies and rituals.

Confucius said, “Those who love their parents dare not show hatred to others. Those who respect their parents dare not show rudeness to others.”

However, in the United States, it is obvious that we have spawned more than one generation of narcissists, and a malignant narcissist, Donald Trump, was recently elected president of the United States. Trump treats many with rudeness and he encourages and supports bullies and racism.

More than twenty-four hundred years ago, Confucius dedicated his life to the moral training of his culture. He lived during the Warring States period before China was unified. Living with all of that violence and death, he dreamed of a land where people could live happily and harmoniously together.

Only in this sense can one understand the tremendous virtue placed on filial piety, which is regarded as the ‘first of all virtues’ not only in China but also many other Asian countries.

I’m not saying what Confucius taught was perfect, but those lessons have served China well for centuries and is still a vital element of Chinese culture.

Return to or Start with Part 1

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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The Unpredictable Killers Hiding Among Us

March 7, 2017

Nation Master ranks countries by the per capita murder rate. For every one million people, China had 10.1 murders in 2010 and was ranked #167 out of 193 countries. The United States was ranked #99 in 2010 with 40.01 murders per one-million population.

That tells us that we are about four times safer from being murdered in China than in the United States.  The #1 country for murders is Honduras where in 2011, more than 900 people were murdered for each one-million population.

Do you want to live in Honduras where the odds of being murdered are 90 times higher than China; 22 times higher than the U.S.?

How about the 98 countries with higher murder rates than the United States or the 166 countries ranked higher than China?

Let’s compare two news reports. One was in China and the other one took place in the U.S.  In both reports elementary school children were the targets.

From China, the BBC News reported, “A man with a knife has wounded 22 children – at least two of them seriously – and an adult at a primary school in central China. The attack happened at the gate of a school in Chenpeng village in Henan province. … Security at China’s schools has been increased in recent years following a spate of similar knife attacks in which nearly 20 children have been killed.”

So far, in China’s most recent grade school assault, no one has been reported with firearms, but in the United States, in a similar incident, the death toll was shocking.

Fox News reported, “At least 26 dead in shooting at Connecticut elementary school. … Authorities say at least 26 people, including 18 children, were killed Friday when a gunman clad in black military gear opened fire inside a Connecticut elementary school.

“A law enforcement official said the shooter, who is dead, was from New Jersey and had ties to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. Authorities recovered a Glock and Sig Sauer 9mm handgun, but it was unclear who killed the shooter, who wore black combat garb and a military vest.”

To understand why, I Googled “profile of mass murderers” and discovered that unlike serial killers mass murderers are hard to profile and are unpredictable.

Dr. Michael Stone told The Daily Beast, “Usually you’re dealing with an angry, dissatisfied person who has poor social skills or few friends, and then there is a trigger that sets them off.” … adding that 96.5 percent of mass murderers are male, and a majority aren’t clinically psychotic. Rather, they suffer from paranoia and often have acute behavioral or personality disorders.

When I checked the list of school massacres by rampage killers, 155 were listed as killed in the U.S. and 58 in China.

Infoplease.com lists the 100 worldwide mass and/or school shootings from 1996 to the present. There wasn’t one listed for China. If you click the link, you will discover that 79 of the 100 worldwide mass shootings took place in the United States.

If you are Donald Trump or a supporter of Donald Trump, before you blame immigrants for these shootings, click the Infoplease link in the previous paragraph first and discover who pulled the triggers. Always check the facts first before jumping to conclusions. If Donald Trump had done that when he publicly claimed that illegal immigrants were responsible for a terrorist attack in Sweden THAT NEVER HAPPENED, he wouldn’t have made a fool of himself again, and again, and again.

If the safety of your family and children was more important to you than Freedom of Speech and choice of religion, what country would you live in?

Discover Anna May Wong, the American actress who died a thousand times, because she was Chinese.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Eating Out in China’s Oldest Capital

February 14, 2017

In 1999, in China’s oldest capital, our hotel was in sight of Xian’s city walls.  We had a view of the ancient battlements that were several hundred years old and sinking. At night, the walls and towers were outlined with white Christmas lights.

I ached to get up there and walk on those walls that were wide enough to drive cars on.  I’d have to wait more than nine years before that happened.

To get an idea of the history of this city, it helps to know that it was the capital longer than any other city in China, and was first called Chang’an before it became known as Xian.

Several dynasties ruled China from this city:

BC 221-206 – Qin (Ch’in) Dynasty
BC 206 – 9 AD – Han Dynasty
581-618 AD – Sui Dynasty
618-906 AD – Tang Dynasty
Timeline of Chinese History and Dynasties

Beijing wouldn’t become the capital of China until 1279 AD during the Yuan Dynasty when Kublai Khan was emperor.

On our second day in Xian, we walked from the hotel and through an opening in the ancient wall into the city to a Xian restaurant. I went in first and the hostess, who didn’t speak a word of English, handed me a menu written in English.

Anchee, dressed more like a Chinese peasant than an American, walked in after me, and she was handed a menu written in Chinese. Then she glanced over my shoulder at my menu before taking it out of my hands and giving it back to the hostess.

“We’ll use the Chinese menu,” she said. Anchee grew up in China during Mao’s Cultural Revolution and didn’t leave until she was 28.

The prices in Mandarin were less than half the English version.  A stunned look appeared on the hostesses face.  It was a Candid Camera moment, and it was all I could do not to laugh.

This doesn’t mean every restaurant in China does this. In fact, most don’t. The double menu caper was probably the idea of the owner of that specific restaurant in a city known for tourism due to the Terra Cotta warriors and the tomb of China’s first Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi.

Discover The Return of Confucious

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The Statutory Woman

March 15, 2016

An honest comment for my first novel My Splendid Concubine gave me the idea for this post on the history of the changing attitudes of when a female child becomes a woman. The comment said, “The girls (the two concubines in the story) were younger than 15, for goodness sake. I had a hard time getting past that.”

According to Live Science.com, “A woman can get pregnant and have a baby as soon as she begins ovulating, or producing eggs. This typically occurs about a year after they first begin menstruating, which for North American women, usually happens between the ages of 11 and 12.”

But according to the law in the United State, a female child isn’t legally a woman until age 14, 15, 16, 17 or 18 depending on which U.S. state you live in (watch the first video to discover the age of consent in each U.S. state).

In addition, the age of consent laws in the middle of the 19th century, the time period of My Splendid Concubine that was based on a real-life story, were not the same as they are today, and China is not the United States.

To understand the difference between now and then, today in the People’s Republic of China, the age of consent for sexual activity is 14, regardless of gender and/or sexual orientation. In Hong Kong, it is 16 and in Macau 18.

In fact, “Depictions of ‘child-romance’ in ancient or modern Chinese literature are not difficult to find. They include passages on joyous heterosexual or homosexual activities by children as young as 12 to 13 years old with one another or with adults. Children are usually described as natural sexual beings and erotic stimulation and sex-play are seen as beneficial to their healthy development (Chen 2000). … For most of Chinese history, the minimum marriage age suggested by the government had ranged between 12 and 16.” – Department of Psychiatry, University of Hong Kong

What about the United Kingdom around the time period of my novel? In 1875, a concern that young girls were being sold into brothels caused Parliament to change the age of consent to 13. Prior to that, the age of consent was 12.

However, in the United States in 1875, each state determined its own criminal laws and the age of consent ranged from 10 to 12 years of age. It would not be until after the 1930s that the term jail bait came into use in America as the age of consent laws changed.

I could have sanitized My Splendid Concubine and made both Ayaou and her sister Shao-mei much older to fit the politically correct attitudes of today, but that would have been historically incorrect. Sterling Seagrave in his book Dragon Lady, the Life and Legend of the Last Empress of China, wrote, “He (Robert Hart) had just turned twenty. Ayaou was barely past puberty but was wise beyond her years.”

If Ayaou, one of the concubines in the novel, was barely 14, then there was only a six-year age gap between the two, while Hart’s arranged marriage to a young Irish woman named Hester Jane Bredon a decade later sees the gap double to twelve years when he was thirty and she was eighteen. Seagrave says, “He (Hart) sought a wife as straightforwardly as he had bought a concubine.” After returning to Ireland for a brief stay in 1866, Robert proposed marriage to Hester five days after he met her. The courtship lasted three months before they were married.

Should authors ignore historical fact and rewrite history to reflect the moral sensitivities of today’s readers?

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Will the U.S. Cultural Revolution, based on Greed and Power, rival Mao’s in Suffering and Loss?

February 9, 2016

The difference between the current Cultural Revolution in the United States and Mao’s in China (1950 – 1976) is that this unique American Revolution is from the top down instead of the bottom up. In China the majority of the people supported the Chinese Communist Party against the Nationalist Party in a Civil War that raged for decades (1927 – 1950).

But in the United States, the revolution is being led by the wealthiest 0.1% of Americans: for instance, Bill Gates, two of the four Koch brothers, the Walton Walmart family, Rupert Murdock, Wall Street, Corporate America, Hedge Funds, recently Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, who was recruited into the Gates Cabal, and a few other poorer billionaires, for instance Eli Broad in California, a billionaire who made his money in real estate and who is currently funding a campaign to take half the children in the public schools in Los Angeles and move them into private sector, autocratic, opaque, often fraudulent, for-profit corporate charter schools that are often worse than the public schools they replace, according to more than one study out of Stanford. “75 percent of charter schools showed either no significant difference or were significantly weaker than traditional schools.” – Desert News

During Mao’s Cultural Revolution, the end goal was to end capitalism and support socialism to reduce the suffering of the majority of China’s people who lived in extreme poverty. In America’s current Cultural Revolution launched by President Ronald Reagan with his failed trickle-down economic theory, the goal has been to privatize and/or weaken the government by eliminating the public sector: public education, health care,  public police, health care for veterans through the Veterans Administration (VA), the U.S. Postal Service, the U.S. Military, Social Security, Medicare, Obamacare, etc.

The most recent incident of crimes against humanity in this U.S. Cultural Revolution that has been slowly gaining steam since Reagan are 10 Things They Won’t Tell You About the Flint Water Tragedy, but I Will by Michael Moore.

Moore starts with, “While the Children in Flint Were Given Poisoned Water to Drink, General Motors Was Given a Special Hookup to the Clean Water.” Click the link in the previous paragraph to read the details and to discover the other nine crimes.

The Washington Post reports, how do states support their public schools? Badly, a new 50-state report card shows. The highest grade was a C average (2.5 GPA), and only three states earned it: Iowa, Nebraska and Vermont.

Mother Jones says, It’s the Inequality, Stupid, and then explains what’s wrong with America in eleven charts. “A huge share of the nation’s economic growth over the past 30 years has gone to the top one-hundredth of one percent, who now makes an average of $27 million per household. The average income for the bottom 90 percent of us? $31,244.” Click the link in this paragraph to discover the horrid but true details.

Global Research asks, The Prison Industry in the United States: Big Business or a New Form of Slavery? “Human rights organizations, as well as political and social ones, are condemning what they are calling a new form of inhumane exploitation in the United States, where they say a prison population of up to 2 million – mostly Black and Hispanic – are working for various industries for a pittance. For the tycoons who have invested in the prison industry, it has been like finding a pot of gold. They don’t have to worry about strikes or paying unemployment insurance, vacations or comp time. All of their workers are full-time, and never arrive late or are absent because of family problems; moreover, if they don’t like the pay of 25 cents an hour and refuse to work, they are locked up in isolation cells.”

What has happened over the last 10 years? Why are there so many prisoners?

“The private contracting of prisoners for work fosters incentives to lock people up. Prisons depend on this income. Corporate stockholders who make money off prisoners’ work lobby for longer sentences, in order to expand their workforce. The system feeds itself,” says a study by the Progressive Labor Party, which accuses the prison industry of being “an imitation of Nazi Germany with respect to forced slave labor and concentration camps.”

The prison industry complex is one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States and its investors are on Wall Street.

When President Richard Nixon declared his war on drugs, the average prison population in the United States averaged for decades about 250,000 or less. Today that number is approaching 2.5 million, the largest prison population on the planet, and China is #2 with almost five times the total population.

This American Cultural Revolution that is being led by the wealthiest and most powerful Americans has also waged war against labor unions since the 1960s and as union membership rates declined, middle class incomes shrunk.

Union Membership shrinks along with middle class incomes

The Military Times reports that veterans are against “plans to replace VA health care with a voucher system, an idea backed by some Republican lawmakers and presidential candidates.”

The United States was once proud to have an all-volunteer army but that isn’t true anymore. Foreign Policy.com reveals The New Unknown Soldiers of Afghanistan and Iraq and asks, “Did you know that private contractors in Afghanistan outnumber U.S. troops three to one?”

“Indeed, since 9/11, private contractors have been deployed at roughly the same — or even higher — rates as U.S. troops in support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is hard to detail, because the U.S. military has never adequately tracked contractor personnel deployed in support of overseas operations, according to various Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports. (To give one highly disturbing anecdote demonstrating this, while in September 2011 the GAO found that the military could not reliably determine the number of contractor personnel that had been killed or wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan, over the same time period, the Pentagon had accurately been tracking the number of combat dogs killed in both countries.)”

What happens when for-profit corporations take over fighting America’s wars, and who do you think will end up doing the fighting?

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Burning Books and Politically Correct Censorship

November 4, 2015

My reason for writing this post was to show how cultural differences bring about biased opinions due to religious, spiritual and/or cultural beliefs.

For instance, my mother would have burned My Splendid Concubine, because she grew up in a country with the soul of a church. After my mother died, I found her videos of the Bible, an audio version and about thirty different translations/versions.

I didn’t know until then that there was that many ways to speak for one God. In fact, Biblica says, “Would you believe that there are literally hundreds of different translations of the Bible into English? For many people this huge variety is totally confusing and they just don’t know which Bible to choose.”

After my father died, mother spent her last decade to age 89 studying the Bible several hours a day. This was her attempt to discover the answer to salvation that haunted her most of her life.

My mother loved to read other books too, as did my father, who was not a religious person. However, if my mother ran into a vivid sex scene in a novel, she threw the book in the fireplace.

Since I was born and raised a Catholic, and when I was 12 my mother switched to the Jehovah Witnesses, I know why she would’ve burned my novel.

To Catholics, Jehovah Witnesses, and most devout Christians of all sects, lust is a mortal sin.

In fact, Catholic Questions in a Secular World says, “The seven deadly sins are pride, avarice, envy, wrath, gluttony, sloth and lust.… Lust is the self-indulgent desire for gratification … without the sanctifying graces of marriage.”

For instance, when I was single in my thirties, I had a relationship with a lawyer, who ended the relationship due to her Christian guilt. She wasn’t a Catholic but she attended two different Christian churches on Sundays, and she made it clear that it was the guilt that drove her to stop seeing me. She said she went to two churches to hear two sermons each Sunday, because it was the only way should heard what she wanted to hear.

My Splendid Concubine is historical fiction based on a real Irishman who went to China in 1854, bought a concubine and stayed until 1908 to become the most powerful Westerner in China’s history and the only foreigner trusted by the Emperor.

Books have been written on the subject of sex in America that explains why my mother would have burned My Splendid Concubine. America’s War on Sex: The Attack on Law, Lust, and Liberty by Marty Klein, Ph D. is one example, which “Spotlights the political, legal and civic battles raging in this country against what is arguably our most private and pluralistic right – sexual freedom.”

And in Cultural Differences Defined by Written Language, I attempted to explain why cultures around the globe are not all the same, and as I did when I wrote of The Collective Culture versus Individualism.

Another example is an anonymous reviewer called “colorado outback” who posted a one-star review on Amazon of My Splendid Concubine and said, “You should Not Buy This Book – Seriously, just Soft Porn.”

My mother would have agreed with “colorado outback”, because she was influenced by her religion.

Outback says: “this seemed more like the sexual fantasy of the author and NOT the historical novel it is purported to be.”

However, “outback” was wrong. The idea to write My Splendid Concubine didn’t originate from a sexual fantasy, as I’ll explain.

Since writing My Splendid Concubine was not motivated by sexual fantasies, I responded to “outback’s” biased opinion, and outback replied that my novel doesn’t “come up to par with Anchee Min, John Steinbeck, Kurt Vonnegut, Alice Walker, Charles Dickens, Amy Tan, Pearl S. Buck, James Michener, Eudora Welty, Harper Lee, Isabel Allende, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Tom Robbins and so on.”

I’d have to agree. I’ve never thought that I was equal to or better than the authors outback listed or any author. In fact, I don’t compare my writing to any other author and if I compete with anyone, it is with my own writing with the goal to improve.

Outback claimed to have read all of the books by the above authors and thousands more yet he only had two, one-star reviews posted on Amazon (at the time I was writing this post).  Where are all those five-star reviews extolling the virtues of the work he admired?

If I didn’t write such a lusty novel from personal sexual fantasies as “outback” claims, why did I write it?

The answer is simple.

I wanted to show the clash between different cultures and Sterling Seagrave wrote in Dragon Lady, “To take the pain out of learning, his Chinese tutor suggested that (Robert) Hart might buy a concubine and study the local dialect with her.

“Hart wrote in his journal, ‘Here is a great temptation. Now, some of the China women are very good looking: You can make one your absolute possession for from 50 to 100 dollars and support her at a cost of 2 or 3 dollars per month. … Shall I hold out or shall I give way?'”

Seagrave writes in the next paragraph, “By early May he (Robert Hart) had a sleep-in dictionary, his concubine, Ayaou. He had just turned twenty; Ayaou was barely past puberty.”

Then the editors of Entering China’s Service: Robert Hart’s Journals wrote on page 8, “But anyone who reads the journals through knows that his mental struggles about women were not soon or lightly won; whether the relapse was to daydreams or to a Chinese mistress, it caused him ambivalence and anguish.”

China has had a concubine culture for thousands of years and that culture, although changed in form, is still active today, which I wrote of in Concubines Return to China Riding Capitalism’s Wave of Wealth.

In China, the concubine is a trophy showing a man’s success, and no major religion on earth has had a lasting impact on the Chinese culture in more than a thousand years.

In fact, the concept that lust is a mortal sin doesn’t exist in China unless a Chinese adopts Christianity as their religion.

That does not mean China is without morals but the moral codes of China exist without the sin of mortal lust as Catholics and many devout Christians believe. In fact, I’ve known mainland Chinese that are extremely moral and would put most Puritans to shame.

The idea to focus on Robert Hart’s struggles with his Victorian, Christian morals while living in 19th century China’s concubine culture sprouted when I first read his journals and letters published by Harvard University Press.

Other influences were Anchee Min’s Empress Orchid and The Last Empress: A Novel—both novels go into detail about the lives of the more than three thousand concubines that belonged to the emperor.

In fact, in 19th century China, the more power and wealth a man had, the more women he owned.

Another influence was the movie directed by Zhang Yimou in 1991, Raise the Red Lantern, which “focuses on the ever-shifting balance of power between the various concubines while the husband ignores much of what is going on — taking his pleasures when he feels like it.”

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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