Midsummer Eve 1670. Two unexpected visitors arrive at a shabby warehouse on the south side of the River Thames. The first is a wealthy man hoping to find the lover he deserted twenty-one years before. James Avery has everything to offer, including the favour of the newly restored King Charles II, and he believes that the warehouse’s poor owner Alinor has the one thing his money cannot buy—his son and heir.
The second visitor is a beautiful widow from Venice in deepest mourning. She claims Alinor as her mother-in-law and has come to tell Alinor that her son Rob has drowned in the dark tides of the Venice lagoon.
Alinor writes to her brother Ned, newly arrived in faraway New England and trying to make a life between the worlds of the English newcomers and the American Indians as they move toward inevitable war. Alinor tells him that she knows—without doubt—that her son is alive and the widow is an imposter.
Set in the poverty and glamour of Restoration London, in the golden streets of Venice, and on the tensely contested frontier of early America, this is a novel of greed and desire: for love, for wealth, for a child, and for home
I love Philippa Gregory, but this book was a bit of a miss for me. I didn’t like the American setting and I really didn’t like Livia. I know she was supposed to be a frustrating character, but she really took away from the story for me. I have not read the first book in the Fairmile series, Tidelands, but I’m not sure it would have helped. This book did alright as a stand-alone for me, it was just missing in other aspects.
Author: Ling Zhang Publisher: Amazon Crossing Pages: 304 On Sale: October 1 2020 Genre: Historical, Fiction, Cultural, WWII Stars: 4/5
From the Publisher:
The eagerly awaited English translation of award-winning author Zhang Ling’s epic and intimate novel about the devastation of war, forgiveness, redemption, and the enduring power of love.
On the day of the historic 1945 Jewel Voice Broadcast—in which Emperor Hirohito announced Japan’s surrender to the Allied forces, bringing an end to World War II—three men, flush with jubilation, made a pact. After their deaths, each year on the anniversary of the broadcast, their souls would return to the Chinese village of their younger days. It’s where they had fought—and survived—a war that shook the world and changed their own lives in unimaginable ways. Now, seventy years later, the pledge is being fulfilled by American missionary Pastor Billy, brash gunner’s mate Ian Ferguson, and local soldier Liu Zhaohu.
All that’s missing is Ah Yan—also known as Swallow—the girl each man loved, each in his own profound way.
As they unravel their personal stories of the war, and of the woman who touched them so deeply during that unforgiving time, the story of Ah Yan’s life begins to take shape, woven into view by their memories. A woman who had suffered unspeakable atrocities, and yet found the grace and dignity to survive, she’d been the one to bring them together. And it is her spark of humanity, still burning brightly, that gives these ghosts of the past the courage to look back on everything they endured and remember the woman they lost.
I was really impressed with the way this book was written. Set in China during World War 2 it introduced us to many different characters, and it did a very good job at keeping them all separate. The book switched perspective every few chapters and invited us into someone else’s viewpoint and background and often this can get confusing or tangled, but I didn’t find that in this case. I’m using this for the “A Book That Leaves You Thinking” part of my 2020 reading challenge because it’s not a story you can move on from quickly. Each character goes through a lot of trials and it was really interesting to learn how they handled each one and the repercussions from them years later.