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Thousand Pieces Of Gold (2004)

Thousand Pieces of Gold (2004)
3.74 of 5 Votes: 1
080708381X (ISBN13: 9780807083819)
beacon press
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Thousand Pieces Of Gold (2004)
Thousand Pieces Of Gold (2004)

About book: I first read this book shortly after it came out in 1981, and I loved it. I've never forgotten it, have loaned my copy out, and replaced it, at least 4 times. I recently bought the New Edition, which contains additional information, and am so glad I did.In rereading the book, I realized I had remembered certain scenes accurately – and some that didn't exist at all ;-). Lalu Nathoy/Polly Bemis was a real woman who was sold by her father to bandits, smuggled into the US and, as the slave she was, found her way from San Francisco to Portland to Warrens, Idaho where her owner used her in his saloon as a 'bar girl' and where she became known as Polly.Little is known of her life in China, and McCunn does a marvelous job of conveying the 'what might have happened.' Girls had little to no value in China, except to marry into a higher level of society if at all possible, thereby bringing some monetary relief to her family. To this end, many first born girls of even peasant families, had their feet bound. Lalu's feet were bound, and then unbound when she was needed to work in the fields to help her father. Although her feet never returned to 'normal' she was able to walk long distances and do field work on them.Bandits came to her village, and she was stolen. The leader gave her father two bags of seed, thereby changing it from a theft to a sale. Lalu began her journey to probably Shanghai where she was smuggled aboard a ship bound to San Francisco. From there, she went north until eventually reaching Warrens, Idaho, as the slave of Hong King. There is a myth about gaining her freedom, the truth as we know it is that no one knows how she ended up free. We do know she married her benefactor, Charlie Bemis, and lived many years in the Salmon River area.I think McCunn did a tremendous job showing the cultures of China and pioneer Idaho in this book. Yes, there were areas I would have liked to see expanded, and undoubtedly as you read it, there will be areas you wish were in more depth, but over all, this is a fascinating, and accessible story. I highly recommend it for anyone with an interest in our history, or the history of the Chinese in our country. Although it is an adult book, it is suitable for those in Junior High School.It's a good read, and you're bound to learn something!

This is a powerful biographical novel that is as telling about the United states and its treatment of Chinese immigrants in the 19th century as it is about the particular events of the subject, Lalu Nathoy's, life. Lalu is a very strong woman, the quintessential survivor. She is sold as a girl into prostitution and slavery, hauled illegally into the United States, sold again, suffers one horrific outrage and humiliation after the other at the hands of white Western men, witnesses endless similar outrages, murders, lynchings, and mistreatment of other Chinese women and men at the hands of the same men. This is not a flattering book about American history or national character. Through it all Lalu retains her spirit, strength, and determination to find freedom, despite astounding odds. She also learns healing skills.Lalu, renamed 'Polly" against her will, finally lands on a small farm in a remote valley, and creates a peaceful life there for herself with Charlie, a decent man who won her in a poker game and is her protector, until this refuge too is threatened by the same brutality and lawlessness. Significantly, at the end of her life, in spite of repeated pleading, she is buried as a matter of convenience in the hospital cemetery instead of in her beloved valley home with Charlie.Is there a category "American's "Christian" treatment of other humans and the Earth"?
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Thousand Pieces of Gold tells the true story of Lalu Nathoy, who grows up for the first decade of her life in the male dominated world of the late 1800's in China. Her Father unlike many other men calls her his 'thousand pieces of gold', and even when hard times come, resists the urge to sell her as his only daughter but when the family is threatened by bandits a few years later as he is watching his sons and wives starve cultural and societal pressures come together and Lalu's Father sells her for nothing more than a few bags of seed. After this the reader follows Lalu's life through journeys with bandits, dark roads into brothels, and it follows a path that leads her to America where she is sold to a saloon and renamed Polly. She eventually regains her freedom, and as a reader it was a book I could not put down as you celebrated with her as she found happiness love, and ultimately redemption.For other reviews my blog site is:
This book is based on the real life story of Lalu, later Polly, who was sold by her family during a famine to bandits, sold to a brothel, and then sent to America and bought as a slave by another Chinese settler where she settled in Idaho in mining town. I found the story compelling and well written up through her journey to Idaho. After that, it jumped too much and without smooth transitions. Polly was an enduring character, but the actual development of her wasn't there as I wished it had been. I think the author did a better job filling in the unknown gaps of Polly's early life and it seemed like a different story and style for the later part as if she drew too much for actual evens. I think story would have benefited from more creative liberties.
Anneke Dubash
I first read this quite a number of years ago and have come back to it several times.It is a fascinating look into the life of a Chinese woman trying to make her way in the New World.For some reason, this is usually referred to as "fiction" when it is, in fact, a biographical story. Unfortunately, the fact that it is mistaken for fiction entirely, has led some to rankle at some of the more violent events, even calling the characterization of the events leading up to Lalu Nathoy's arrival in America, particularly life in as "racist".To quote from the publisher's website: "A few fictitious characters have been added and certain events transposed for the sake of the narrative, but the essential story of Polly's life remains accurate."Unfortunately, life in China of the 19th Century wasn't a bowl of cherries. Nor, was life in America easy for a Chinese ex-prostitute/slave, attempting to make her way in the world. That is history. One can't skirt around the issues in order tell the story of a woman sold by her father to a brothel, then to slave traders, a saloon-keeper as a prostitute, and eventually lost in a poker-game...While the writing isn't necessarily Nobel Prize-worthy, it tells the story of Lalu Nathoy in a way that "feels" like it was told by her."Most of what we know about Lalu /Polly's early life can be traced to an interview she gave Countess Eleanor Gizycka in 1922 and three newspaper articles published in the next decade. From these accounts, we learn that Lalu Nathoy was born on September 11,1853, in Northern China, near one of the upper rivers, in an area frequently ravaged by bandits. Although Lalu's parents were impoverished farmers, her feet had been bound as if she were from a family of means, then unbound. When Lalu was eighteen, there was a prolonged drought, and her father was forced to sell her to bandits in exchange for enough seed to plant another crop that would, he hoped, save the rest of their family from starvation."
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