The Painter from Shanghai is a story of fiction based on the life of painter Pan Yuliang.
Xiuqing is an orphan and left in the care of her uncle who has an opium habit. He told Xiuqing that they are going on a boat trip. Xiuqing thinks she is going on this trip to do work as an embroiderer. He sells the young girl to a brothel.
Once at The Hall of Eternal Splendor, Xiuqing goes through training and must change her name. She is now known as Yuliang. Yuliang’s contract was then bought by Pan Zanhua, a government politician, who makes her his second wife. They move to a different place where Yuliang is not so well known and Zanhua desires for her to receive an education. Her skills do improve but she has a desire to pursue her interest in art. She starts to receive lessons from Qiuhua who is the artist that has done the covers of some of the political magazines that her husband receives. Yuliang then becomes a student at the Shanghai Art Academy. Her husband tries to support her interests for a time but becomes very unhappy when she shows him a painting she intends to enter in a contest (a nude self-image). The painting did win her a scholarship to Paris.
This is just the beginning of many turbulent things that start to happen to Yuliang. When she returns to China, many people are upset by her paintings because they are so shocking. The people are also concerned with the styles that Yuliang decides to wear.
What happens to Yuliang?
The moment I started reading this book, I became totally engrossed in the story. The author does an excellent job of making the reader feel everything that Yuliang went through during her time at The Hall of Eternal Splendor. The reader will feel the pain and humility that Yuliang had to endure.
The author also does an excellent job of showing that one can do what they want to do even though there are many obstacles in the way.
It is difficult to believe that this is a debut book from Jennifer Cody Epstein. She tells this story in such a way that the reader will think the words have come from a seasoned writer who has been mastering novels for many years.
It is very obvious that the author has done a tremendous amount of research in order to be able to bring this story together. This novel also takes the reader through a historical and turbulent time during the revolutionary period in China. Be sure to add The Painter from Shanghai to your reading list. I highly recommend this novel.
REVIEWED BY NANCY EATON
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