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Empress of Asia Adam Lewis Schroeder

Empress of Asia

Adam Lewis Schroeder

Published
ISBN : 9781551929606
Trade Paperback
416 pages
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 About the Book 

This terrific tale of love and war opens as narrator Harry Winslow mourns his beloved wife. As a last request, Lily had asked him to contact a friend from the distant past. So Harry leaves Vancouver for Thailand, in search of his wartime comrade,MoreThis terrific tale of love and war opens as narrator Harry Winslow mourns his beloved wife. As a last request, Lily had asked him to contact a friend from the distant past. So Harry leaves Vancouver for Thailand, in search of his wartime comrade, Michel Ney. As the skein of memory unspools in a final, one-sided conversation with Lily, we get to know Harry better than he knows himself.Harry speaks to his dead wife of his boyhood in Nelson, B.C. He recalls his first job as a merchant seaman, and his voyage on the bombed ship of the title. In British Singapore they meet and fall in love- miraculously, they both survive the occupation. Harry has quite a memory. At times it seems a stretch that he would remember, as he was hiding with Michel from the Japanese in Java, the degrees of hotness in various curries, but food in wartime was so important, and this character is so vividly present, that it works. Curries were the very least of his memorable meals.The text sparkles and crackles with places and people: shipboard life, nights at Raffles Hotel, years in P.O.W. camps, the Indonesian communists, Japanese occupiers, his fellow prisoners, and always Michel, his saviour. Harry sees everything in close-up, but he so often fails to grasp the big picture that we get exasperated with this surrogate for our own naivete. Wake up, Harry! The people who befriend him, from Eric Shaw, who secures him his first seaman’s job before absconding with his money, to Michel Ney, the experienced fixer, and even Lily, more sophisticated than her spur-of-the-moment groom, are all drawn to his pure affability. When Harry’s vision is blurred by beriberi, it’s the perfect metaphor for a man suffering from mental myopia. The whopper of a secret waiting at the end of his journey makes sense both for Harry and for all marriages. Maybe he should have known. But can we fault a man who not only adored his wife but also worshiped jazz legend Fats Waller? Impossible.-- Nancy Wigston (Books in Canada)