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Crimson China: A Novel Paperback – 3 Feb 2011

4.3 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Short Books Ltd (3 Feb. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1907595228
  • ISBN-13: 978-1907595226
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 2.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 591,732 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

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

Crimson China...is 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

About the Author

Betsy Tobin was born in the American Midwest and moved to England in 1989. She is the author of three other novels, Bone House, The Bounce and Ice Land. She lives in Islington, London with her husband and four children.


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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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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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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book slightly underwhlemed me which is probably why it's taken me a while to review. I am stuggling somewhat to review it too as I keep finding myself wanting to relay the plot rather that my feelings about the book as, to be honest, I didn't really connect with any of the characters.

To briefly summarise the plot: Wen is an illegal immigrant from China who gets caught up in the Morceombe Bay tragedy (for those who aren't aware - this actually happened in Britain several years ago when over 20 illegal Chinese immigrants drowned while picking cockles for very little pay on Morecombe beach at night). Wen survives when he is rescued by Amgie who is a woman who is an alcaholic has decided to commit suicide on that very beach at the same time. Angie makes a last minute decision to save both herslef and Wen instead. After Wen is assumed dead, his twin sister Lili flies over to the UK as she can't quite believe he is dead and is determined to track down his last known movements to get some closure. She doesn't get what she bargained for as Wen is very much alive.

While this was not a bad book in any way, in fact on the whole I did enjoy reading it, it did however have the potential to be so much more. I would have liked the book to really bring the plights of the people involved and also their families who also had to suffer the consequences, to life. It never really pressed home to me the devestation of that night and the aftermath and nor did I ever feel fully engaged with any of the characters. Having said that, there were many good points too - in particular I liked the character of Wen: although I never felt he was fully fleshed enough to get to know him properly, I did like his observations of Englishness through his watching of Angie when she took him home.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I absolutely adored this book, and read it flat-out. It had been sitting on my kindle for a little while as I hadn't really felt inspired to start it - the subject matter sounded so depressing, and it just didn't appeal. But as soon as I started it, I couldn't bear to put it down.

All the characters are so vivid, the subject matter so interesting, and the writing is beautiful. I actually can't think of anything I disliked about it (except perhaps the title - somehow it doesn't match the book). I feel like I know Lili, Wen and Angie; I loved the complexity of Angie's character, and the unlikely closeness that she and Wen develop.

Louise Voss
Author of Killing Cupid
Killing Cupid: A Psychological Crime Novel
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