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 Harbortakes the reader from the intrigue and double-dealing of the 1930s through the savagery of the Japanese occupation to contemporary Hong Kong, crossroads of international trade and finance and waystation for laundering the dirty money of warlords, drug runners, and Chinese triads. The novel ends three years after the Mainland 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 amongour most versatile and talented contemporary novelists-indeed, as The New York Timeswrote, "Lanchester is a commanding writer."
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Review: Fragrant HarborUser Review - Brendan Le Grange - Goodreads
Fragrant Harbour interweaves both personal and global stories, as it charts Hong Kong's ups and downs at the hands of it various occupiers, using the points-of-view of a few memorable characters. That ... Read full review
Review: Fragrant HarborUser Review - Blue Mountains Library - Goodreads
A lovely novel with the intersecting lives of four people in Hong Kong from the 1920s to the late 1990s when Hong Kong was handed back to China. HC Read full review