The Home Song Stories: a movie review

January 1, 2014

The Home Song Stories, based on a true story, stars Joan Chen as Rose. Joan Chen was born into a family of doctors and educated in China during the Mao era; she is considered the Elizabeth Taylor of China and delivers a powerful performance in this film, which won a slew of foreign awards.  Rose is a lost soul with two children who moves to Australia after marrying an Australian sailor she meets in Hong Kong.

In 2007, the film won awards from the Australian Film Institute; awards from the Golden Horse Film Festival; the Hawaii International Film Festival; the Torino International Festival of Young Cinema, and in 2008, it won the Film Critics Circle of Australia Award.

The film is set in the late 1960s, and the Australian sailor turns out to be an admirable character. See the film to discover why.

Later in the film, it is revealed that at sixteen Rose was sold to become a concubine to an older man, but she fell in love with her master’s younger brother, an artist, and they run off. A few years later, the love of Rose’s life dies from tuberculosis. To survive, Rose becomes a night-club singer who takes a string of lovers. The story is told from her young son’s point of view. Rose’s daughter is a teenager for most of the film.

Discover Not One Less, a film produced in China that went on to win eighteen international film awards. At the Venice Film Festival, it won the Golden Lion Award, the highest prize given to a film at this festival.

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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 love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


Interracial love in China during World War II, a book review of “Shanghai Love”

August 13, 2013

From the title, we already know the story is about love in Shanghai, and it doesn’t take long to discover who the two main characters are that are destined to meet.

It is 1938, and in chapter one, we are introduced to Peilin in China. In chapter two we meet Henri in Nazi Germany.

But the love story isn’t what made this novel worth reading. It was the journey the two characters must take to find each other. They are both doctors. Henri is Jewish and trained in western medicine. He has to leave his family behind in Germany and flee to China to avoid Hitler’s Nazis who are hunting for him because he dared to love a woman who was not Jewish.

Peilin was trained by her grandfather in Chinese herbal medicine, and by the time Henri meets her, she has already been married to a ghost for some time.

As a young girl, a marriage was arranged to a boy almost twice Peilin’s age, but when he was a young man—before the marriage—he was killed in combat fighting the Japanese who invaded China in July of 1937. By the time Pearl Harbor is bombed by the Japanese in December 1941, China has already been fighting Japan for more than four years. To give you an idea of how horrible it was, by the end of World War II, China lost ten to twenty million people to the war compared to 418,500 for the United States.

One would think with her fiancé dead, Peilin would be free to move on with her life, but no—because in China it is expected that Peilin must still marry the man’s ghost, stay a virgin for life and live with her in-laws who will buy a baby for her to raise as if she were its biological mother and the dead man its father.

Shanghai-Love-front-cover-194x300

The story is set in an era when both the Chinese and Europeans disapproved of interracial relationships. In Germany, there was racism against the Jews. But in China, there is prejudice from some Chinese because Henri is white. In addition, many of the Jewish refugees look down on the Chinese culture and disapprove of Henri spending time with Peilin. It seems that these two are fated to be star-crossed lovers.

I recommend reading this story because it offers a reminder of the horrors of war and racism. During World War II, 20,000 European Jews fled to Shanghai, one of the few places in the world that put no limits on the number of Jews it would accept.

Another plot thread that runs through the novel is the focus on Chinese herbal medicine and how different it is from the western concept of medical care. The Chinese were studying advanced medical care long before the West. In fact, Chinese medical tradition is more than 5,000 years old including herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage, exercise and dietary therapy—concepts that the West didn’t pay serious attention to until near the end of the 20th century.

I’m not going to tell you how the love story turns out between Henri and Peilin. You will have to buy and read the novel to discover that.

Layne Wong, the author of Shanghai Love

Layne Wong, the author of Shanghai Love

I bought my copy of “Shanghai Love” by Layne Wong at an author event held at the Bancroft Hotel in Berkeley, California earlier in 2013.

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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 love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


They Myth of China’s Queen Mother, Shi Wang Mu

July 25, 2013

To the Chinese, Hsi Wang Mu is the Queen Mother of the  West (Western China), an important figure of Chinese mythology.

It is believed that the myth of the Queen Mother goes back almost three thousand years, but the earliest recorded history was found from the Chou Dynasty (1122 – 222 BC) and was written in the second century BC.  It appears she may have been a real queen of a Western Chinese state and stories of her life become legend over hundreds of years turning into magical myths.

One of the older stories is about Hsi Wang Mu and the celestial archer, where she asks him to build her a palace of jade in the western sky. His reward was a pill made from the peaches of immortality, which ends in tragedy and heartbreak.

It is said that Hsi Wang Mu had nine sons and twenty-four daughters with her mate, Tung Wang Kung.

Discover The First Emperor – The Man Who Made China

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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 love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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The Voice of Shanghai Dies—Shocking Fans

June 6, 2013

Cheng Naishan, a mainland Chinese author and writer known for her work about life in Shanghai, died recently of leukemia.

The Blue House, a novel that is also available in English, French and Spanish, is about the world of romance, business and family life in Shanghai during and after The Cultural Revolution.

Image of Cheng Naishan

Her work is known for the history, culture and legacy of Shanghai in the 1930s before World War II when the city was known as the “Paris of the Orient”.

Cheng was born in 1947 into a family of bankers. The family moved to Hong Kong in 1949, and returned to Shanghai—out of patriotism—in 1956. Her first story was published in a literary magazine in 1979 launching a literary career in China that spanned more than three decades.

“I know some people say I always write about the old Shanghai and try to keep the flavor of old Shanghai and that makes my writing look less modern,” she said in a 2012 interview with an official publication run by the government-backed Shanghai Federation of Literary and Art Circles. “I am not concerned about what those people say about me because in my heart the old Shanghai is just an endless story and I won’t stop writing about it.”

The editor of the Shanghai Dialect column for Xinmin Evening News, Lyu Zheng said, “She can write adeptly about the lower-class life experience of dumping the chamber pot, as well as upper-class social life between coffee cups.”

funeral of Cheng Naishan

Her husband, Yan Erchun, said, “Naishan has great love for the city of Shanghai, especially the district of Jing’an. She was born and raised here. There are endless stories she wanted to write about Shanghai.”

Cheng was diagnosed with leukemia in the winter of 2011, and she continued writing until near the end.

Discover Life is a Miracle, a movie review

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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 love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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The Rise of China’s Romance Film Industry

April 23, 2013

Romance is filling screens in China, and Tom Carter showed us how the Western Romeo and Juliet concept of romance got its start in China in 1995 when Harlequin (US  Romance publisher) received permission “to bring romance to millions of Chinese women”.

That beginning grew to more than a thousand romance novels written by mainland Chinese authors last year.

The growing interest in fictional romance has also spilled seriously into mainland Chinese film.

Cfensi (a source for Chinese entertainment news) says that recently, modern day romance movies in China have taken off. “Cinema goers in China want the choice of light-hearted entertainment from the cinema, and the Chinese film industry is rapidly accommodating that niche in the market.”


Interview with Tony Leung, who often plays the leading man in movies with beautiful actresses.

In fact, one star benefiting from this demand for romance may be “Tony Leung (who) has been called the Clark Gable of Asia, and it’s not hard to see why: he’s handsome, with the enviable frame of a man who can put on anything knowing it will both flatter him and fit him.” Source: The Times.uk

Then Tiger Cinema offers a list of Chinese Romance movies with links to “try now”. The titles for a few of these movies are revealing: If You Are the OneSome Like It HotAll About womenL For Love – L For LiesCall For Love, and My DNA Says I Love You.

The summary for If You Are the One says, “A story about love in comical situations depicts how difficult it often is to find the right person, but also how often we don’t realize it when love hits us at the most unexpected times.”

Cfensi says, “With China’s total box office up 44% in 2009, and 1.65 cinema screens added per day, with no signs of slowly down, this should only be one sign to look forward to of the growing diversification of China’s rapidly rising film industry.”

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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 love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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