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Sharing our love for authors, and the stories they are inspired to tell.

‘House Of 8 Orchids’ by James Thayer


My brother and I were kidnapped off a street in Chungking, China, when I was five years old. Our amah, Mi Ling, was shoved into shelves at an open-air stall called the Prosperity Medicine Shop. Blue and white jars filled with herbs clattered to the cobblestones. A rough hand seized my neck. I was carried away, down an alley toward the Yangtze. Two-year-old William was under the kidnapper’s other arm.

Chapter One

The eunuch watched from the steps, half-hidden behind a stand that sold mustard tubers and oranges. He held a four-foot bamboo pipe between his teeth and was wearing a yellow silk jacket with mother-of-pearl buttons. In the Manchu fashion, his queue hung to his waist, and his temples were shaved. I could feel the weight of his stare. He had been watching me for twenty-five years.

Check out the full premise and author biography here ..


A picture button for book beginnings at Rose City ReaderWould the first few lines of your book make you want to read on?

If so, would you like to share them with us, (without revealing too many spoilers of course) ?

Click here and visit your host, Gilion @ Rose City Reader

You can then leave a link to your own book beginnings post, or just browse for some great reads, there are always plenty of new authors and titles to be discovered.

Don’t forget that Gilion and all the other contributors to this meme love to hear from you, so why not leave a comment or two at the same time?

I can’t wait to do a little blog hopping myself and check out all the great Book Beginnings you have!


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I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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    • Hi Anne,

      ‘Six Lies’ is definitely a work of fiction, although those opening lines do rather lend themselves to a more biographical or historical tome, don’t they? They indicate a strong storyline and a great thriller to boot!

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, I appreciate it 🙂

    • Hi Bev,

      I do love a good suspense/thriller and a story which is 25 years in the telling certainly qualifies as one to look forward to!

      Thanks for stopping by. I hope that all is well with you and that your Christmas preparations are well in hand 🙂

  • Definitely one I’d read given how much I enjoyed Chapter 1.

    Struggling with Arsene Lupin Vs Sherlock Holmes by Maurice LeBlanc which has two stories within the same book. I have finished the first (The Blonde Woman) and am about to start the second (The Jewish Lamp).

    {First Episode: The Blonde Woman: Chapter 1}: On the 8th of December last year, M. Gerbois, a teacher of mathematics at the Versailles secondary school, discovered among the jumble of things in an old curiosity shop a small mahogany writing desk which he liked on account of its large number of drawers.

    • Hi Tracy,

      This book probably isn’t one which would attract my attention on the bookshop shelf, however the premise caught my attention and those opening lines have definitely captured my imagination … Now I need to read on 🙂
      Given that the Arsene Lupin series was written back in the early 1900s, I imagine that the style of writing is much more formal than we are used to seeing these days, which I think I might enjoy.

      I am wondering exactly what aspects of the book you are struggling with, so I shall look forward to your review.

      I would love to own a period writing desk or bureau, but I would definitely need to have the study or library to go with it, where my computer could be hidden away out of sight and of course, the wall to wall bookshelves with the library steps, goes without saying!

      I do hope that you manage to overcome and finish the book 🙂

    • Hi Sandra,

      Most of the basic details of the storyline are detailed in the premise, however I am longing to have those tasters fleshed out, as this is certainly a chilling and suspenseful thriller, centred around a location and culture about which I have very little knowledge.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, it is always good to have you visit 🙂

  • Not a setting I often seek out, this sounds great! Both the prologue AND the first chapter make me want to know more. A four foot pipe?? Imagine the jaw strength needed to clench that in one’s teeth!

    I’m catching up on magazines here at year end and am working on the Winter issue of the Oxford American, a literary mag with which I tend to have a love/hate relationship. The winter issue always features music and includes a CD. In the spirit of the meme, I’ll include this quarter’s beginning:

    “Welcome to the Oxford American’s seventeenth music issue, in which we take on the task of excavating, cataloguing, chronicling, appreciating, and celebrating the musical traditions of Georgia. From country blues and early jazz to gospel, soul, metal, rock & roll, hip-hop, and beyond – there isn’t a corner of American music the people of this state haven’t made their own. Within this magazine and on the CD, we have gathered some of their stories, in hopes of illuminating a bit of Georgia’s musical past, present, and future.”

    • Hi Kelly,

      When I wrote those opening lines, I became convinced that this is a book I am going to enjoy reading, although I did try not to look any further than those paragraphs, so as not to inadvertantly see too many potential spoilers. The comments for this post though, did prompt me to go back and search for a story timeline and in the very next paragraph of the prologue, the date is set at 1912, which gives me some added perspective to the narrative.

      I don’t tend to buy magazines at all, as over here at least, they all tend to be predominantly advertising led, with very few pages actually content driven. Add to that, that many of them cost the same price as an average paperback book and value for money disappears completely!

      Thanks for stopping by and I hope that all your Christmas plans are coming together 🙂

    • Hi Elizabeth,

      This sounds like a kidnap like no other … Twenty-five years is a long time to be captive … They do say that if someone has been held for any length of time, they often begin to respect and relate to their captors …

      Either way, this sounds like an edge-of-the-seat read, which I am looking forward to reading.

      I hope that all is well with you and that you are all ready for Christmas 🙂

    • Hi Naida,

      I already knew the definition of eunuch, but I’m pleased that it gave you a new word to add to your repertoire.

      I know that it can break the momentum of a reading spell to have to stop and look up the meaning of a word or phrase, however for me that is all part of the fun.

      I’m not really sure why it was necessary to have a eunuch guard the two boys, and for quite so long. however I’m certain all will become clear when I start reading the book.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment and I hope that you had a lovely Christmas day 🙂

Written by Yvonne