Night in Shanghai by Nicole Mones kept me reading late into the night until I finished the book in record time. It’s all there: love, intrigue, suspense, drama, music and history masterly woven through the story.
Thomas Greene is an African American classical pianist who is recruited by Lin Ming—the illegitimate son of the powerful leader of Shanghai’s Green Gang, Du Yue-Sheng—to leave the United States and lead a jazz band of fellow African-Americans in Shanghai. It’s in Shanghai where Thomas discovers a life that isn’t plagued by the poverty and the racial discrimination he knew in America, and he falls in love with the city and people with no intention of going home.
Thomas has a lusty affair with a beautiful Russian refugee and makes friends with Jews fleeing the madness of Hitler’s Germany. Then Thomas meets the woman who will fill his life with passion and love. Her name is Song Yuhua, but she is the property of Du Yeu-Sheng. Song’s father gave her to the gangster to pay off a gambling debt.
In addition, you’ll discover the story of the Chinese Schindler, who risked his life while working in Europe as a Chinese diplomat to save more Jews than the real Schindler did—there should be a film about his courage but at least we now have this novel.
You’ll also discover the efforts by both some Chinese and China’s Japanese invaders to protect the Jews who escaped to China. Hitler pressured both Chiang Kai-shek and Japan’s leaders to kill all the Jews in China, but they refused. Instead, they did something no other country on the earth—even the United States—did. Chinese leaders and Japan’s military leaders in China protected the Jews and offered them a safe haven during the horrors of World War II.
And I learned something new—that Chiang Kai-shek admired Adolf Hitler. This kicked my curiosity into high gear and I did some Google research to discover that Chiang Kai-shek and Hitler were friends who admired each other. The two first met in 1912. In 1913, they even rented a room together in Munich. After Japan invaded China, Chiang asked Hitler’s for help with the Japanese but he didn’t know that Hitler was already forming a military alliance with Japan. In fact, The Nationalist Chinese led by Chiang Kai-shek cooperated with the Nazis from the late 1920s until the late 1930s.
“Night in Shanghai” also makes it clear that the Chinese Communists under Mao were nationalists first and communists second. In my Google research I discovered that the communists proclaimed: “There is the ‘patriotism’ of the Japanese aggressors and of Hitler, and there is our patriotism. Communists must resolutely oppose the ‘patriotism’ of the Japanese aggressors and of Hitler.”
The first character we meet in the novel is Song Yuhua. Near the end of the story, as the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor is imminent, she must choose between her loyalty to the Chinese Communists and her love for Thomas Greene. You’ll have to read the book to discover her choice.
I received an advanced reading copy of this novel through Amazon Vine and this review is my own opinion of the novel.
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.
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