Mandarin Author:Robert Elegant This brilliant and sweeping novel by the best-selling author of Dynasty is at once a saga of two families, a vast historical epic, and a passionate love story. — At its heart is China in the mid-ninteenth century--the tumultuous era that saw the "Taiping rebellion, the troops of the Western powers, and the rise to power of the Imperial concubine ... more »Yenehala, who was to become China's formidable Dowager Empress.
The families are those of two merchants, partners and friends, one Chinese, the other European, who share in common the Jewish faith. Aisek Lee is one of the few Chinese born to Judaism, though adhering to the traditional values of Chinese life and culture. His piety, loyalty to family and sense of honor are exemplary -- and will almost cost him his wealth and his life.
Saul Haleevie is a Jewish merchant, British by adoption, but still an Orthodox Jew steeped in the traditions of Spain and the Middle East who has wandered from Baghdad to India to China, driven by persecution and determined to seek his fortune.
Together the two men have founded a trading company in Shangai, where they struggle to compete against the established European firms, the corruption of the Chinese bureaucracy, and the unrest of the times.
Caught up in the fortunes of both families -- and the enormous, rushing torrent of events as the Manchu Dynasty sinks ever deeper into impotence and chaos -- in Fronah Haleevie, Saul's beautiful, headstrong daughter.
Fronah rebels against the strict Jewish orthodoxy of her parents and plunges into the sophisticated social life of European Shanghai, only to be shamed and disgraced by the young Englishman she loves. Sensual and passionate, she is torn between her love of China and her ambition to be a European lady. When Fronah marries the elegant, enigmatic Lionel Henriques, her wishes seem to have been fulfilled. But he is distant, cold, unable to respond to her ador and -- as she eventually discovers -- tormented by a guilty secret that destroys their marriage.
The man she turns to is Gabriel Hyde, a young Amerian naval officer, who loves her with an intensity equal to Fronah's own but is swept away from her by the violent events that have wrenched the lives of all of them: Saul, who achieves the wealth, respectability, and power he has dreamed of, only to see it jeopardized by his loyalty to his old partner; Aisek, condemned to exile his loyalty to his old partner; Aisek, condemned to exile by the Emperor himself; Aisek's son, David, who rises to power as a Mandarin of the Manchu Dynasty; to power as a Mandarin of the Manchu Dynasty; Fronah, who must choose between serving China and joining the man she loves; and Yenehala, the concubine who outlives her Emperor husband and her Emperor son, to seek terrible revenge on the foreigners who have humiliated and exploited China......
No novel about China has even approached the wealth, color, and fascination of Mandarin. It carries the reader into a world wholly unfamiliar, yet so brilliantly illuminated in each detail that every page is full of the color and excitement of the exoitic empire.
At the same time, Mandarin is a novel about people, people who become as real and familiar as our own families. The rich cast of characters ranges from Mandarins to European traders, from Emperors to concubines, from adventurers to saints and mystics, from the Dowager Empress, spinning her endless web of intrigue, to Fronah, trying o find happiness and fulfillment amid the turbulence of a nation that seems beyond human control, so vast that one life seems insignificant. Mandariun is magnificent fiction!« less