Friday, June 28, 2013
Review: Shanghai Love
Shanghai Love by Layne Wong
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Shanghai Love by Layne Wong is a love story that is as complex as it is simple. Peilin is preparing for her wedding day, going through the ancient Chinese rituals that are expected of a bride-to-be. However, Peilin's husband is not what you would expect. Fighting in the war between the Japanese, her husband is dead before their wedding day. Still, she married his ghost and commits herself as a daughter-in-law to her husband's family. When an herbalist uncle dies, it is Peilin's place to run his shop in Shanghai.
Meanwhile in Germany, Henri's life is turned upside down with the rise of Hitler. Not only is the city falling down around him, but he is also trying to survive, and as a doctor save his neighbors, all while being Jewish. Although he is in love with an Aryan girl, her father's connections make her turn on Henri, causing him a need for quick escape. One ticket to Shanghai, China is available. He takes it.
Through Peilin's young brother Ping, Peilin and Henri meet. They first engage in conversations that are simply between colleagues—a meeting of eastern and western medicine. But their relationship grows to be much more, even through the tough trials that they must face on their own and together.
This book is an excellent mix between a love story, a cultural story and a historical look at a unique perspective of World War II. Since not many know that there were many Jewish refugees sent to China, it serves as an important story to highlight this part of 20th century history.
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