Two reader reviews that were recently posted on the same day on Amazon for my first novel gave me the idea for this post, and then I couldn’t get it out of my head. That’s why I wrote the post—to get it out of my head.
The 15-year old mentioned in the title of this post I wrote about in my first novel, and he died more than a hundred years ago. He turned nineteen in 1854 soon after he arrived in China. The novel, “My Splendid Concubine”, covers Robert Hart’s first decade in China. He stayed in China until 1908, and died in England in 1911.
“Hart’s devotion to his work played havoc with his emotional life. As a young man, in spite of his Methodist conscience, he had bouts of promiscuity. In 1857 he took a Chinese concubine, Ayao, with whom he had three children and for whom he developed genuine affection and respect.” – Wiki
Anyway, in 1999 when I started researching the life of the main character of “My Splendid Concubine,” I read the surviving journals that Robert Hart didn’t burn later in his life, and what I read clearly revealed a nineteen year old who thought about women and sex a lot. In fact, the evidence suggests that he had sex with so many women starting at age 15—when he was in college in Belfast, Ireland—that he ended up being treated for an STD, and when that news reached his father and family, it’s what propelled him to escape to China and into the arms of Chinese women.
The women he lusted after and had sex with during his early years in China were part of Robert Hart’s life, and I made a decision while writing the rough draft of that historical fiction novel that I was going to be true to who he really was and not write a sanitized version like the one his niece Juliet Bredon published in 1913. Click on the previous link, and you may download Bredon’s book and read it for free from Gutenberg.org.
Here are the two reviews that gave me the idea for this post. They were posted on Amazon on July 20, 2015 for “My Splendid Concubine”.
1-Star: Rita Schwartz wrote, “If all you want to read is about sex, this book might be for you. Again the description of the book made this sound like a historical novel. Maybe it was, I only got about three chapters read.”
5-star: Robyn Johnson said, “I couldn’t put it down. Memorizing! What a surprise and delight. One of the best books I have read in years! I usually never read a book twice, this one I will make the exception! I think it is a must read!”
In conclusion, maybe the book is fortunate that more readers enjoyed the story than those who did not. For instance, on July 21, 2015 at 3 PM, “My Splendid Concubine” had 192 customer reviews—182 were listed as verified purchases. One-hundred-and-eighteen of the reviews had 5-stars and eight of those were not verified purchases, 39 were 4-star (all verified purchases), 20 were 3-stars (all verified purchases), 9 were 2-stars (one was not a verified purchase), and 6 were 1-star (one was not a verified purchase).
When you are about 10k – 15k words away from finishing the rough draft of your next novel, “The Last Sorcerer”, you should be working on that instead of writing a post comparing two recent reviews for your first book, but it’s all about lust and sex so that should make this post okay, I think.
Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).
Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy followed by his award winning memoir Crazy is Normal . His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards.
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