January 2012 Indie Next List
“Devotion to the first child is a thousand-year-old tradition in China. As the second child, Xiao Feng received less love and attention than her older sister. When her sister dies just prior to being married to a man who repulsed her, Feng becomes the substitute, with duty taking precedence over personal desires. Her duty now means bearing a male heir and being forced to endure painful nightly visits from her unloved husband. Feng, once an innocent, tender, dreaming young girl, is turned into a hard and cruel young woman who makes heart-rending choices that will haunt and scar her forever. A story both poignant and powerful.”
— Karen Briggs, Great Northern Books and Hobbies, Oscoda, MI
For every young Chinese woman in 1930s Shanghai, following the path of duty takes precedence over personal desires
For Feng, that means becoming the bride of a wealthy businessman in a marriage arranged by her parents. In the enclosed world of the Sang household--a place of public ceremony and private cruelty--fulfilling her duty means bearing a male heir.
The life that has been forced on her makes Feng bitter and resentful, and she plots a terrible revenge. But with the passing years comes a reckoning, and Feng must reconcile herself with the sacrifices and terrible choices she has made in order to assure her place in the family and society--even as the violent, relentless tide of revolution engulfs her country.
Both a sweeping historical novel and an intimate portrait of one woman's struggle against tradition, All the Flowers in Shanghai marks the debut of a sensitive and revelatory writer.
About the Author
Duncan Jepson is the award-winning director and producer of five feature films. He has also produced documentaries for Discovery Channel Asia and National Geographic Channel. He was the editor of the Asia-based fashion magazine West East and is a founder and managing editor of the Asia Literary Review. A lawyer by profession, he lives in Hong Kong.
“Jepson...evokes time and place well as he describes the life of privilege that Feng comes to take for granted only to have her life veer dramatically and be overtaken by the Great Leap Forward.”
“[Jepson] does a solid job of voicing a female character.”
“Strong on detail and emotional intensity.”
“[A] riveting storyline.”
“Poignant and elegantly written.”
“An accomplished first novel. Duncan Jepson magically inhabits the life of a young Chinese woman in 1930s Shanghai, following Feng’s unlikely evolution from neglected second daughter to first wife of the rich and powerful Sang family and her unexpected epilogue. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.”
-Janice Y. K. Lee, New York Times bestselling author of The Piano Teacher
“This story is breathtaking. Like a poem or a painting, it reveals the old Shanghai. It’s a great work that will move its readers.”
-Hong Ying, international bestselling author of Daughter of the River
“The life of this novel’s main character is splintered into thousands of pieces, each of them reflecting the changes of Chinese history, yet all of them coming out in Duncan Jepson’s poetic, passionate writing.”
-Qiu Xiaolong, author of the Inspector Chen mysteries
“A beautifully poetic story. Duncan Jepson creates a poignant set of characters and follows the journey of one woman who attempts to stop the cycle of history in the only way she knows how, but with dire consequences.”
-Geling Yan, author of The Banquet Bug