It’s a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour The Shanghai Wife by Emma Harcourt.
About the Author
Emma Harcourt has worked as a journalist for over 25 years, in Australia, the UK and Hong Kong. In 2011, she completed the Faber Academy Writing a Novel course and The Shanghai Wife was borne. Emma lives in Sydney with her two daughters. She is currently working on her second novel. Follow @emma_harcourt on Twitter,
About the book
Forbidden friendship, political conspiracy and incendiary passion draw Australian woman Annie Brand deep into the glamour and turmoil of 1920s Shanghai.
Leaving behind the loneliness and trauma of her past in country Australia, Annie Brand arrives to the political upheaval and glittering international society of Shanghai in the 1920s. Journeying up the Yangtze with her new husband, the ship’s captain, Annie revels in the sense of adventure but when her husband sends her back to Shanghai, her freedom is quickly curtailed.
Against her will, Annie finds herself living alone in the International Settlement, increasingly suffocated by the judgemental Club ladies and their exclusive social scene: one even more restrictive than that she came from. Sick of salacious gossip and foreign condescension, and desperate to shake off the restrictions of her position in the world, Annie is slowly drawn into the bustling life and otherness of the real Shanghai, and begins to see the world from the perspective of the local people, including the servants who work at her husband’s Club.
But this world is far more complex and dangerous than the curious Annie understands and, unknowingly, she becomes caught in a web of intrigue and conspiracy as well as a passionate forbidden love affair she could not have predicted: one with far–reaching consequences…
Moving to 1920’s Shanghai is a big stretch for Annie, having to deal with the curious and judgemental creatures called ex-pat – throwbacks of the old world on the cusp of change and a new awakening. Thrust into the gossipy world full of sharp retorts and a visible shallowness, Annie starts to reach out into her new surroundings, but encounters more than she ever thought possible.
I imagine it will appear to many that Annie is impulsive and naïve in her actions. Her desire to learn, to help and discover her surroundings is dangerous to the observer, and yet it is completely in keeping with her societal position and her heritage. It’s called white saviour complex, which although is still prevalent today, was and is very much a product of colonialism. She is fearsome in certain situations and simultaneously convinced her position and her good intent will keep her safe. The invisible bubble of privilege if you will.
Harcourt draws the reader in with the vivid imagery and historical setting, to the point where the more adventurous aspect becomes the obstacle, the dam that keeps the other genre voices slightly tamed. It’s a story driven by the vivid imagery, the accurate settings and the due diligence given to the characters. The author blends and weaves to create a riveting tale of self-discovery and times gone by.