Nicole Mones’ newest novel, Night in Shanghai, is worth every word! With meticulous detail to locations of streets, hotels, and the cultural and political life of Shanghai in the turbulent years of 1937-1941, Mones’ brings alive the nightlife of a culturally diverse city that quite frankly I never knew existed as it did. But she also brings out, in the main characters of Thomas Greene, the African-American Jazz orchestra leader, and Song Yuhua, an indentured Chinese servant who is also a Communist sympathizer and spy, the overarching historical themes of World War 2 and a China split between Nationalist and Communist forces and loyalties.
Along with the numerous details and historical realities, such as the plight of the Jews who had fled to Shanghai from Europe, Mones’ also sketches a very bittersweet love story between Greene and Yuhua, whose desire for active participation in the Communist movement overshadows their relationship. And woven in their story is a marvelous description of Jazz music and the Jazz era which engulfed Shanghai in that time period.
Yuhua, in my opinion, gets the fullest character development in the story as she moves from a refined, yet indentured, servant whose education allows her to easily move among the various nationalities to a rugged and determined Communist Party member who is ready to risk her life for a cause she believes is just. The character of Greene is also a wonderfully developed character and through him we are offered a glimpse of freedom which African-Americans had in Shanghai.
I liked this book for both the multiple story lines as well as for the credible characters and the historical background to it all. It kept my interest through to the end.
I rate this book a “magnificent” read!
Note: I received an uncorrected proof of this book from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review.