lin dynasty

10

I will be so disappointed if any future drama that contains a concubine selection sequence does not have this trope, where the demure innocent girl from a lesser family spills water/tea/soup/insert-liquid-here on the snotty, bratty rich girl from the powerful family, requiring the plucky female lead who is a Strong Female Character™ to come to her rescue and have an argument with the bratty girl in the middle of the palace.

Also related is the trope of the plucky female lead who is a Strong Female Character™ entering the palace for concubine selection, planning to hide her talents because she doesn’t want to be chosen, but Fate conspired against her and made her reveal her talents anyway, leading to her being the Chosen One, thus starting off a whole epic herstory of palace rivalries and intrigue.

At last! I’d been mourning that the historical romance anthology Gambled Away never appeard in paperback (contributors include Rose Lerner and Joanna Bourne). But today I discovered that Jeannie Lin’s novella, The Liar’s Dice, was released in paperback last month (September 2017). Hallelujah!

While the story follows the events in The Lotus Palace and The Jade Temptress, it’s a standalone with a cross-dressing, scholarly heroine. At her website, the author writes:

“On cross-dressing and general boundary pushing: Though not a reliable historical source, popular folk legends of the Tang Dynasty indicate that women had a “rebel spirit” and would dress in men’s clothing, climb walls, and ride horses. Whether or not this actually happened in the Tang Dynasty is not something I bother myself with too often. What’s more compelling is that there is a prevailing popular belief that Tang women did these things. I have said before that my Tang Dynasty is a romantic version of the Tang Dynasty. What is historically known is that princesses commanded armies, female politicians reached the highest level of government, and women played polo alongside men.

[…] Female scholarship: I always found it interesting that books on proper conduct for women were written by female scholars, not by men. One of the Four Books for Women, The Analects for Women, was written by Tang Dynasty scholar Song Ruxian and her sister Song Ruozhao, who were both brought before the Emperor along with their three sisters. All five so impressed the Emperor with their knowledge that he recognized them as scholars, inviting them to literary events and giving them official administrative posts. [The heroine of this novella] was inspired by these women who were able to achieve respect through scholarship.”

The Lin Chung Dynasty

(Part 2 of a recent re-blog but this part seemed to keep losing the images.  So re-done just for those who’ve recently seen part 1.)

This Ep centred around the offices of a woman’s magazine, hence my choice of chapter headings!

Part 2: Strictly business

The re-emergence of Lin in Away with the Fairies probably pays lip service to the on-going relationship between Phryne and Lin as lovers in the books. I presume that would be Phling. But I’m sticking with the TV shows and hoping that Lin will disappear.

At the end of the last Ep with Lin Chung, he had decided to marry the bride chosen for him for the honour of his family, but in Fairies things get complicated in an on-again off-again engagement.

Lin’s engagement to Camellia is to promote and restore the family’s business and Phryne makes it clear to Lin that her association with Jack is strictly business. Hmm, this doesn’t augur well for Phrack!

There are parallels between the Lin/Camellia situation and the main plot where the status of education for women is still  wanting in society dominated by men:

  • the magazine (Women’s Choice) hides articles on women’s health and well-being amongst recipes and crochet patterns
  • the agony aunt’s advice perpetuates a woman’s servile role and there’s evidence of its destructive powers
  • Mrs Opie’s affair with John Bell involves more talking about art and literature than anything else - topics her husband feels are irrelevant to her
  • Lin’s fiancée, Camellia, is educated, albeit by Chinese communist teachings and this is something to be hidden from her new family.

Cover page

The Ep opens with some flirty Phryne and diffident Jack reminiscing about the pash in Montparnasse, and sustaining a series of close encounters:

Jack is, as usual, hesitant to involve P immediately in the case. (Why does he do this?  We know she’ll end up solving it.  Why resist?)  But just as well he does because we then have that exquisite scene chez Phryne:

Phryne:  Are you wooing me for information Inspector?

She calls him Inspector as she is in wooing mood too.(and is this a near miss kiss?)

And then there’s a knock at the door and Mr Butler announces another visitor. At least it’s not Aunt P. Lin enters, P cannot contain her pleasure in seeing him, and Jack has to leave with his tail between his legs.

Phryne: Lin!

Lin:  My apologies for the intrusion (I don’t think so). Detective Inspector.

Jack: Nice to see you again Mr Lin (I don’t think so).

Both men protest too much me thinks!

Gossip column

Lin and Phryne adjourn to the boudoir for some Phling and Lin updates her on the progress of the marriage stakes.

Lin:  I’ve missed you silver lady. (yerg)

Phryne: Likewise, beautiful man. (even yergier) Tell me why you’re here.  I thought you had a whole Chinese dynasty to appease.

(Yes, so did I.  Go away and appease them.)

Lin: My engagement has been indefinitely postponed.

Phryne: What happened?

Lin: Grandmother feels Camellia is not demure enough to be her daughter-in-law.  She’s answering her back.

Phryne: I like the sound of Camellia.

Lin: And grandmother questioned her chastity and she refused a medical examination.

(Slightly ironic given he’s in bed with P and not subject to any such scrutiny).

Phryne: Never mind a woman’s privacy when a dowry is at stake.

Lin: The longer it takes to resolve this dispute the more time I have with you.

Phryne: True, but not today.

Thank goodness for that!

Lin clearly sees Phryne as his lover and believes that while he is still not formally engaged to Camellia that he can continue their relationship.  However, there is still the shadow of Jack Robinson to contend with…

Crosswords and puzzles

Then things take a bit of a turn for the worse on the Camellia front as the grandmother decides to send her back to where she came from but the Hu’s won’t cough up with the fare so there’s a bit of an impasse.  

P is introduced to Camellia and Lin says that she has no English. He then asks to speak to P in private to explain the stalemate, and ushers Camellia out. (Why if Camellia doesn’t speak English does she have to leave?  Why doesn’t he explain in front of her?  He can hardly explain it to P in Mandarin.  Unless he knows she does speak English…)

Lin asks P to give her shelter until things calm down as the grandmother has taken to Camellia with a cane in retaliation.  

(Well at least that will keep him out of P’s boudoir for a bit.)

Phryne:  How awful!

Lin:  Don’t worry.  Camellia fought like a tiger but I need you to keep her safe until I calm the waters.

Phryne is unfazed about protecting her lover’s ex-fiancée.  She is not jealous of her and accepts Lin’s request readily.

Dot bathes Camellia’s wounds and Phryne discovers a little red book in her luggage which appears to be some kind of communist manifesto.

Dot: Is Miss Lu a communist?

Phryne: There’s clearly some connection.  She may have a much more colourful history than Mr Lin’s family knows.

Dot: Would Mr Lin object?

Phryne: His grandmother most certainly would.  Let’s keep a close eye on her.  I like to know exactly what I’m dealing with in a house guest.

Table of contents

Mr Butler mistakes the identity of Miss Fisher’s dinner companion and prepares a Chinese menu and the table is set with candelabra and chopsticks. But of course it’s Jack, who appears just a tad discombobulated with the setting.

Phryne:  Never mind Mr Butler.  Perhaps a little more light on the situation but I’m sure the Inspector and I will cope.

Jack: Mr Chung looks well.  We crossed paths as he departed.

Phryne: I hope you like Chinese food.

The purpose of the dinner is to discuss the latest evidence Phryne has gleaned from the magazine’s offices.  Strictly business…

Next day P and J discuss possible suspects for the murders having discovered Mrs Opie’s affair with John Bell (aka Giuseppe Campana).  Jack suspects that Mr Opie could have been involved in the murders once his wife’s infidelity was discovered, and in a picture postcard postscript to his dinner with Phryne adds:

Jack: Some men will do anything for a hot meal.

Business section

Dot figures out that Camellia’s English is rather better than at first indicated and she is forced to reveal her background - the widow of an executed communist whose family wish her as far away as possible.  Returning to Shanghai is not an option.

P then has a last  Phling (or not). Why is she in a slip with the bed fully made and Lin is in a three-piece complete with tie and scarf?  Maybe they didn’t. (Hope not. And anyway where’s Camellia? Not in the next room surely! And where’s Aunt P when you need her?)

Phryne: You made your choice to follow your tradition and marry for duty and honour.

Lin: Perhaps I was wrong and this broken engagement is my last chance … for love. (Oh please scriptwriters give us a break).  Come out with me tonight to Chinatown, for dancing.

Phryne: Not tonight.  I have to rise earlier than I care to.  Inspector Robinson and I are working on a case.

Why does she say this?  She doesn’t need to.  Wasn’t it obvious when he came over the other day, and then when their paths crossed,  that there was a case in progress?  She needn’t have mentioned his name, but she does.  Red rag to a bull I’d say.

Lin: Is he unable to solve a crimes alone?

Phryne: Jack is strictly business. Lin, I care for you but you know I can never commit myself to any man.

Lin: I know.

This conversation begins almost as if Phryne resents and regrets Lin’s decision to pursue an arranged marriage, with Camellia or anyone, “You made your choice…”  But this sentiment, if it is there, quickly dissipates when he offers her an alternative.  Not only does she not accept it, she won’t even go out with him that evening and uses Jack’s name as the excuse for her need for an early night. Jack, being strictly business, parallels Lin’s need for an arranged marriage - relationships based on imperatives other than love.  Let’s hope when she said that her relationship with Jack was “strictly business” that she meant “strictly my business and his business”!

Births Deaths and Marriages

This conversation may well have provided the catalyst for Lin to resolve the deadlock in relation to the Hu’s and the Lin’s. He summons Phryne to assist as he takes on some cousins, backed by Mrs Lin the matriarch, threatening Camellia. (Now despite his deft moves in the alley in the previous Ep, Lin sends P in to deal with the thug cousins while he -er -um, goes round the back.)

Lin stands by Camellia, exerts his titular rights in the family and the marriage is back on.

Meanwhile Phryne consults her watch, knowing she is expected elsewhere, just as someone across town consults his (and has a bit of a lean).

Jack: If you are going to demand a dénouement Miss Fisher, the least you can do is turn up on time.

Murderer identified and arrested, case solved.  P gets Camellia on the cover of the article on migrant Melbourne in “Women’s Choice” and Dot turns down an alternative career as an agony aunt to stay with Miss Fisher. So happily ever after.

Appendix

Phryne: Jack, good of you to come. (They shake hands!)

Jack: And what puzzle are we solving tonight?

Phryne: No puzzle.

Jack: And no candlelight.  And no chopsticks either.

Phryne: There won’t be any chopsticks at this table for quite some time.

Jack:  And how would Mr Lin feel about that?

Pryne: Mr Lin will have quite enough to worry about with his communist-revolutionary-fighter bride.

Jack: Really?  Pass on my congratulations.

Phryne: Perhaps we could allow ourselves just one candle.  What do you think?

Jack: I think I could cope with that..

南宋 馬麟 蘭花圖 冊頁 絹本
Orchids
Artist: Ma Lin (Chinese, ca. 1180– after 1256)
Period: Southern Song dynasty (1127–1279)
Date: second quarter of the 13th century
Culture: China
Medium: Album leaf; ink and color on silk
Dimensions: Image: 10 7/16 x 8 7/8 in. (26.5 x 22.5 cm)
Classification: Paintings
Credit Line: Ex coll.: C. C. Wang Family, Gift of The Dillon Fund, 1973
Accession Number: 1973.120.10,  Metropolitan Museum of Art


Description from the Metropolitan Museum of Art: “ This exquisite representation of an orchid, signed by Ma Lin, son of Ma Yuan (act. ca. 1190-1225), exemplifies the style of formal realism favored by the aristocratic Southern Song court. The simple asymmetrical balance of flowers and leaves, meticulously rendered in subtle shades of lavender, white, and malachite green, bespeaks a consciously aestheticizing sensibility. Such flower paintings recall late Southern Song lyric poems about flowers.”



5

TANG DYNASTY SERIES by Jeannie Lin

The Tang Dynasty series features vibrant historical romances set in the glittering Tang Dynasty (618 AD – 907 A.D.) and features intrigue and adventure against the unique backdrop of imperial China.

#1 BUTTERFLY SWORDS

During China’s infamous Tang Dynasty, a time awash with luxury yet littered with deadly intrigues and fallen royalty, betrayed Princess Ai Li flees before her wedding.Miles from home, with only her delicate butterfly swords for defense, she enlists the reluctant protection of a blue-eyed warrior….

Battle-scarred, embittered Ryam has always held his own life at cheap value. Ai Li’s innocent trust in him and honorable, stubborn nature make him desperate to protect her–which means “not” seducing the first woman he has ever truly wanted….

#2 THE DRAGON AND THE PEARL

THE MOST BEAUTIFUL COURTESAN OF THEM ALL…

Former Emperor’s consort Ling Suyin is renowned for her beauty; the ultimate seductress. Now she lives quietly alone—until the most ruthless warlord in the region comes and steals her away….

Li Tao lives life by the sword, and is trapped in the treacherous, lethal world of politics. The alluring Ling Suyin is at the center of the web. He must uncover her mystery without falling under her spell—yet her innocence calls out to him. How cruel if she, of all women, can entrance the man behind the legend… 

#3 MY FAIR CONCUBINE

The Nobleman Who Turned a Tea Girl Into a Princess…

Yan Ling tries hard to be servile—it’s what’s expected of a girl of her class. Being intelligent and strong-minded, she finds it a constant battle.

Proud Fei Long is unimpressed by her spirit—until he realizes she’s the answer to his problems. He has to deliver the emperor a “princess.” In two months can he train a tea girl to pass as a noblewoman?

Yet it’s hard to teach good etiquette when all Fei Long wants to do is break it, by taking this tea girl for his own…

#4 THE SWORD DANCER

The Thief Who Stole His Heart

Sword dancer Li Feng is used to living life on the edge of the law—a woman alone in the dangerous world of the Tang Dynasty has only her whirlwind reflexes to trust. She will discover the truth about her past, even if that means outwitting the most feared thief-catcher of them all…

Relentless, handsome and determined, Han sees life—and love—as black and white. Until he finally captures the spirited, courageous Li Feng, who makes him question everything he thought he knew about right and wrong. Soon he’s faced with an impossible choice: betray the elusive sword dancer he is learning to love, or trust his long-disregarded heart and follow her to dangerous, tempting rebellion… 

#5 A DANCE WITH DANGER

A promise sworn on the edge of a sword…

After a failed assassination attempt on a corrupt general, Bao Yang is a wanted man. Taking refuge with an ally, Yang accidentally compromises the man’s daughter when they’re discovered alone. To save her honor, he must marry the beautiful Jin-mei immediately!

In Yang’s arms, Jin-mei feels alive for the first time. She’s determined not to lose him, even if it means joining his perilous mission… But when she realizes just how destructive Yang’s path could be, can she convince him that their life together could be so much sweeter than revenge? 

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