Han is a pretty child...pretty enough to sell to the House of Wu. There amidst unimaginable luxury, the headstrong girl and the boy who will become her master begin a friendship that later turns to passion. But the heir to the House of Wu is fated for an arragned marriage...as the bondmaid Han faces a future of virtual slavery that includes servicing the House's pleasure-seeking guests. Penniless, surrounded by whispered secrets, and desperately in love, Han chooses to claim the man she believes to be hers...and sweeps us into a chilling drama that captures both the beauty and brutality of a world only decades away from our own.
Because of the title, I thought along the lines of Margaret Attwoods tale of a bondsmaid in her futuristic distopia. This novel shocked me. It was well written, but it spoke eloquently of many generations one woman sold as a bondmaind lives through. It is not the slavery we think of at all. Women who are raised to serve others until suitable marriages can be arranged, as was custom for most women in China. This book was a number one best seller in Singapore, and really gives a look into the lives of women and men who were privaleged people in China, and those who were staffed in their care.
"Can't you see?" She sobbed. "If I let you rape me, you will never love me."
She would have joined the long line of bondmaids, faceless, nameless to the men who called them up to their rooms and did not know or care if they ceased to appear because there were others to replace them. She would have joined that pool of bondmaids who were passed from bed to bed. Today's my turn. Tomorrow's yours.
A little girl is sold as a bondmaid into the House of Wu, where she grows up with the young heir. The idyll of childhood attachment quickly grows into a nightmare of thwarted sexual passion, as Han, beautifully proud, uncompromisingly loyal, struggles against the forces of tyranny and tradition in that large mansion of many rooms and ancestral altars, where patriarchs and matriarchs wield inexorable power, lustful male relatives watch young bondmaids to claim their rightful share of pleasure, visiting monks devise ingenious schemes to combine holy public duty with unbridled private indulgence, and gods and goddesses, with careless insouciance, smile to see the human drama unfold.
Set in Singapore in the 1950s, the novel captures the special ethos of a wealthy and powerful Chinese household in that bygone era of beauty and earthiness, innocence and brutality. At once deeply disturbing and radiantly upliftin, _The_Bondmaid_ chronicles one woman's love in the fullnes of its transforming and transcending power, right to its terrifying climax.