It is 1935 and Tom Stewart, a young Englishman with an almost visceral longing for adventure, has bought himself a cheap ticket to the complex, corrupt, and corrupting world of Hong Kong. Aboard ship, he becomes the pawn in a wager between a bluff businessman and a Chinese missionary nun, who bets she can teach him Cantonese on the six-week voyage out. What begins as friendship turns into solace and then a passion that only individual vows can remit.
Fragrant Harbor takes the reader from the intrigue and double-dealing of the 1930s through the savagery of the Japanese occupation to contemporary Hong Kong -- the crossroads of international trade and finance and the waystation for laundering the dirty money of warlords, drug runners, and Chinese triads. The novel ends three years after the Mainland Chinese takeover, with Hong Kong as greedy, corrupt, and corrupting as when Stewart first landed there.
Writing with the same fine style and observant eye that distinguished his previous novels, John Lanchester depicts a tumultuous time and place and then peoples it with extraordinary characters. The result is a novel that proves he is among our most versatile and talented contemporary novelists.
As The New York Times wrote, "Lanchester is a commanding writer."
Part One : Dawn Stone
When I was a teenager I used to play a game called Count the Lies. The idea was pretty simple: I just made a mental note of every time I heard someone tell a porky, and kept a running total. It was a one-player game, a form of solitaire. Some days I started playing the game after some more than usually gross piece of hypocrisy or cant at school, some days it would be triggered by something I saw on TV or heard on the radio or read in a paper or magazine or book. Most of the time, though, what started me off on Count the Lies was my parents. It wasn't so much any specific thing they said as the whole family atmosphere. It was the air we--even that "we" was a kind of lie--breathed. Some days the lies I counted began with "Good morning" (why? what's good about it?), carried on through "We want you back by half past eleven" (no you don't, you don't want me back at all), and finished with "Good night" (the lie here being: Oh, so you ...
If you liked Fragrant Harbor, try these:
A spellbinding saga on a truly epic scale that brings to life Brazil and her history. A masterpiece Brazil has the look and feel of an enchanted virgin forest, a totally new and original world for the reader-explorer to discover.
Rich with unforgettable characters and history, intricately plotted and utterly absorbing, City of Dreams is a stirring saga of early Manhattan and the beginnings of medical science told by a master storyteller.
Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!
Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only
Southern Gothic fantasy with a contemporary flare set in Savannah
Solve this clue:
and be entered to win..
Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.
Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.