No Westerner has ever achieved Robert Hart’s status and level of power in China. Driven by a passion for his adopted country, Hart became the “godfather of China’s modernism,” inspector general of China’s Customs Service, and the builder of China’s railroads, postal and telegraph systems, and schools. But his first real love is Ayaou, a young concubine. Soon after arriving in China in 1854, Hart falls in love with Ayaou, but his feelings for her sister go against the teachings of his Christian upbringing and almost break him emotionally. To survive he must learn how to live and think like the Chinese. He also finds himself thrust into the second bloodiest conflict in history, the Taiping Rebellion, where he ends up making enemies of men such as the American soldier of fortune known as the Devil Soldier. During his first years in China, Robert experiences a range of emotion from bliss to despair. Like Damascus steel, he learns to be both hard and flexible, which forges his character into the great man he is yet to become.
Full of humanity, passion, and moral honesty, “My Splendid Concubine” is the deeply intimate story of Hart’s loyalty and love for his adopted land and the woman who captured his heart.