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Crimson China

Crimson China [Kindle Edition]

Betsy Tobin
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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Product Description


Crimson China... is fast becoming Tobin's break out novel --Evening Standard

Crimson deftly conveyed, at a rattling pace that keeps the pages turning. The author's evident sympathy for her characters and their dilemmas, together with some sharply observed detail, gives warmth and depth to this entertaining tale of crossed cultures. --The Times

This satisfying novel imagines the life of Wen, a survivor from the tragic drowning of 23 Chinese cockle-pickers in Morecambe Bay in 2004, who is saved by Angie... Through their eyes we see a Britain inhospitable to foreigners, a promised land both plentiful and heartless, and a corrupt hidden economy. --The Sunday Times

A dark dramatic story told with admirable realism and restraint. Unforgettable;--Sue Gee

Tobin knows how to spin a tale and keep the pages turning. She captures the sense of alienation felt by her characters, and the quiet desperation of an invisible underclass...Crimson China is a sensitive and successful evocation of loneliness and displacement: a study of profound loss ultimately redeemed by the mundane reality of a bungalow in Morecambe.--Independent

This fine novel grows in pace and power, propelled not only by its social conscience but also a vividly drawn cast and a gradually building sense of jeopardy as the snakeheads close in.--Daily Mail

Tobin coaxes these damaged lives into alignment, cutting between points of view with great skill and sensitivity. At times unbearably tense, Crimson China has lots to say about the trade-off between need and exploitation, and the way love can erode cultural difference--Guardian

Tobin seamlessly incorporates documentary material into the story. This gripping study of loss and redemption is also an authentic portrait of an invisible underclass.;--Financial Times

Tobin ingeniously manages to portray events with a tragic realism that doesn't call for theatrics. Instead there is a deep-rooted emotion here that doesn't require fireworks, rather it is an aching throb that seeps through...A captivating novel. --Book Caterpiller

Product Description

“He glances over at her. Her shoulder length brown hair is matted with wet against the sides of her face, and there are dark circles under her eyes. He is uncertain of her age. Not young, he decides. Thirty? Forty? He finds it impossible to judge with foreigners. Her clothes are ordinary enough: jeans, a long-sleeved t-shirt, and a dark green pullover that now smells of wet wool. The enormous coat she was wearing lies in a sodden ball on the floor of the back seat. It was the coat he noticed first when she dragged him from the water: made of heavy black wool, it stretched down below her knees and was buttoned up to the neck. No one in their right mind would attempt to rescue a drowning man in such a coat...”

On a freezing night in February, a woman wades into the waters of Morecambe Bay in a drunken bid to commit suicide. Braced for death, she finds herself instead saving a man’s life—a young Chinese cockle picker, one of the only survivors of a tragic mass drowning. For Wen—now missing, presumed dead—Angie provides an unexpected sanctuary. They share neither language nor experience, but she agrees to let him stay with her and ‘disappear’. Within a short time their unlikely pairing blossoms into something darkly passionate.

But Wen’s past soon catches up with him. He is still in debt to the snakeheads who brought him out of China. And when his sister, Lili, travels to Britain in search of his memory, she unwittingly seals his fate. Crimson China is a novel that traps the reader at the outset, shining a light on a tragic, hidden world that runs in parallel to our own. It is a story of identity and culture, of the irrepressibility of the human spirit, and the powerful undertow of love.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 453 KB
  • Print Length: 313 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 190759504X
  • Publisher: Short Books; 1 edition (21 July 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00486U246
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #59,363 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read - thoroughly enjoyable & absorbing 11 Mar 2011
By lilysmum VINE VOICE
I really enjoyed this book which my reading group are going to discuss at our next meeting in May. It tells the story of Angie, an unhappy woman who drinks too much following the death of her mum; she's also estranged from her brother and lives a lonely life. The book starts in 2004 on a freezing evening ( I almost found myself shivering reading the first two pages alone!) on Morecambe sea front, when Angie is sitting in her car considering ending her life. What actually happens is that she rescues Wen, a Chinese cockle picker, from drowning. (It was true that a couple of the cockle pickers in the Morecambe Bay tragedy were never found.) Angie takes Wen home and this is where the story really sweeps you in. Wen has a twin sister in China, called Lili, who is grieving for him, as their parents were killed in an earthquake and they were lucky to survive. The writer follows the story of Wen as he tries to make a life for himself in spite of owing a large amount of money to the snakeheads who organised his move to the UK. There are twists and turns in the story and moments of tension that are very well written and kept me turning the pages, though I won't give away what they are. This book is well worth a read. I've heard it was a Book at Bedtime on Radio 4 last year, though I didn't hear it, but wish I had.

This book makes you think again. A great read and I have bought another Betsy Tobin book to try.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Real page turner ! 1 Mar 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I saw this book briefly featured in the books section of a woman's magazine ,the synopsis caught my eye, reminding me of the horrific deaths of the cockle pickers in 2004.The book starts on that night with Wen's story & moves between London,The North East & China. Intertwined with this is the story of his twin sister who comes from China to look for him.
Although the subject matter is undoubtedly depressing,the book races along - it's a really good read, part thriller, part a rather unorthodox love story. The characters are extremely well drawn & believable. A stark reminder of how tough a migrant workers life over here must be - highly recommended !
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read 28 Mar 2011
I first listened to Crimson China on radio 4's Book at Bedtime; I decided to read the book as I had enjoyed it so much. It's a good believable story, the characters come across as real people, when I had finished reading the book I was hoping things worked out for Wen and Angie and that maybe Angie would stop drinking so much, had to remind myself they were fictional characters. I would highly recommend this book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Moving Novel and a Great Read 13 Nov 2010
Crimson China is a novel that opens up like the rose it takes it's name from. It's an emotionally intelligent story with wonderful characters and reads like a thriller. The novel transports you into new worlds that are both unfamiliar and totally recognizable. It gives you an insight into what it must be like to struggle with being a Chinese immigrant in the UK. It moved me deeply, and I highly recommend it.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect 24 Nov 2010
I am very sparing with my 5 stars, but this book thoroughly deserved them. I felt sad when the book ended, I wanted it to continue. Wen and Lili are so well portrayed, you feel like you know them. I have read several books on how difficult it can be for immigrants and all the various probelms they face, and it is so interesting to learn of different cultures. So many things that we take for granted - a book like this one is very good at raising awareness to the plight of others. What happened at Morecambe Bay was a tragedy, such tragedies abound all over the world every second. I like the way the author took the fact that two out of the twenty-one Chinese migrant workers were listed as missing and their bodies were never recovered, and so she wove a story around one of them as to what might have happened. Everything was written simmply and realistically with a minimum of fuss, and yet so completely effective. I shall be very interested to seek out more of this author's work.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Crimson China 5 April 2011
I really enjoyed this book. Angie one night is on Morecambe Bay seafront trying to come to terms with the death of her mother, she also drinks too much. There is a storm and she ends up resucing Wen ( a chinese cockle picker)and taking him back to her house. The story then has you totally hooked, Wen also has a twin sister Lili and she has come from China because she was told Wen had died and she still feels that he is alive. The book is really good as it alternate's each chapter to either Wen or Lili and you follow how Wen is trying to make a life for himself and Lili is searching for her brother. There is also a nice little twist as Wen has got mixed up with the 'Snakehead' gang back in China and they have followed him. Well worth reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dull expression and too many loose ends 1 Sep 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was disappointed by this. Firstly, the plot relied on too many contrived conveniant twists or coincidences - such as Lili arriving at key scenes on numerous occasions, or Angie's brother's job/background saving the day. There were numerous loose ends or unexplained rambles: Johnny, Miriam, Adrian and May came in and left for no greater reason than it gave Lili/Wen someone to talk to - none were developed in any way; indeed Jin was of barely any greater significance.

Conversation and description was dull and plodded - given the themes of death, loss, culture, poverty, relationships, loyalty, family - nothing touched or moved. Angie's alcoholism didn't evolve or recede; no-one made any great discovery. The suggestion that the police drop a case for the reasons given are facile, as is the inference that the snakeheads would. Plus there were inaccuracies in some of the translations and incidental inaccuracies eg a surgeon being called 'Dr'. The opportunity to write a book which describes the cross-cultural difficulties of being native Chinese in an England which can exploit was not taken - more research on the subject would have helped make it more plausible.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Loved this book, very touching
Published 1 month ago by Annie Bury
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
excellent, great condition, prompt delivery, many thanks :)
Published 2 months ago by layla haidrani
4.0 out of 5 stars A clever play on words in the title. It ...
A clever play on words in the title. It kept my interest throughout. It was an insight into another way of life.
Published 2 months ago by MrsVirginia R Porter
3.0 out of 5 stars Crimson China
A novel based on the tragic events in Morecambe Bay when Chinese cockle pickers were drowned. Makes you think about the inequalities in life and how lucky we are in this country. Read more
Published 16 months ago by catherine anderson
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book!
I read this whilst living in China, so it was enjoyable, and interesting, to read about Chinese immigrants living in the UK from the perspective of a Brit doing the opposite. Read more
Published on 11 Aug 2012 by Miss J. Wilson
4.0 out of 5 stars Crimson China
An interesting book that I have read in one session, although it has sat in my reading pile for months. I would give it 4. Read more
Published on 23 Jun 2012 by Joy B
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed it ...
When the tragedy of the Morecambe Bay cockle pickers hit the headlines in 2004, it caused a media furore. Read more
Published on 20 Dec 2011 by jaffareadstoo
4.0 out of 5 stars Emminently readable
Based on the death of a group of Chinese cockle-pickers in Morecombe Bay, the book gives an insight to both local life and the life of illegal Chinese immigrants, without making... Read more
Published on 19 Nov 2011 by Mr. K. Prior
5.0 out of 5 stars crimson china by betsy tobin
This is a great book. It is not in the genre that i would usually read but i thoroughly enjoyed it. It is an interesting topic and the angle from which the author takes the story... Read more
Published on 9 Aug 2011 by mrsH
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended
This novel re-creates the tragedy of the cockle pickers at Morecombe Bay. It is about Wen, a Chinese cockle-picker who is found on the beach by Angie. Read more
Published on 23 July 2011 by Leicsliz
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