Love and Death in Shanghai
by Elizabeth J. Hall
Paperback original, £9.99
A fast-paced debut novel about a young man’s search for love and adventure in exotic Shanghai in the 1920s and 30s inspired by a family story.
“This is a riveting account of a compelling and erotic story.” Jill Dawson, author of ‘The Great Lover.’
Shanghai 1924. Sam Shuttleworth joins the Municipal Police looking for adventure and to escape his working class roots in Lancashire. Shanghai is a glamorous, fascinating place – with an extremely dangerous criminal underworld. Sam rises through the ranks and marries his glamorous Russian lover Lulu, but the relationship is tumultuous, with infidelities on both sides.
In the 1930s, as Japan invades China and moves into Shanghai with appalling violence, Sam has to negotiate between warring sides, and wonders if he will ever find peace amidst the chaos of his relationships and the bloody events of his career.
I would like to thank the author Elizabeth J Hall and blog tour organiser Anne Carter for the ARC in return for an honest review.
It is a fact of life that I’m not going to enjoy every book I read! It doesn’t mean that the book is bad, it just didn’t appeal to me. Sadly this was the case with Love and Death In Shanghai. Yet it has many elements that will appeal to other readers.
Rather than not review, I thought I would explain why I didn’t enjoy it, then why you should still go ahead and read this historical novel, that is brimming with atmosphere and period detail.
Personally I didn’t like either of the main characters, Sam or his Russian wife. In fact I found Sam to be too needy and dominating, while his Russian wife felt too clichéd. Both characters lacked warmth and I couldn’t feel any sympathy with their plight. Rather than erotic, the sex scenes felt laboured and repetitive.
Now this might all seem negative, but please don’t let it put you off reading this novel, because I am a great believer that no two people enjoy the same book, for various different reasons. I only read other reviews once I have read a book and formulated my own thoughts. Having not enjoyed Sam’s adventures, I took a look at how other’s had felt and I totally agreed that here are many reasons why Love and Death in Shanghai has so many five star reviews. For example the way it captures the violence and chaos in Shanghai is well done and you can feel the horrors Sam sees and the violence he and his colleagues are subjected to. I also loved some of the back characters, whose warmth and humanity attracted me to them, Lulu’s sister and father for example, whom I loved in equal measure.
If you are looking for a historical drama, then you should give this book a try. I didn’t work for me, but it will for many other readers. Literature is found in many diverse genres for a reason, we are all attracted to different styles of writing or characterisation. One reviewer not liking a book, when there are many five star reviews, should show you that one or two three stars or lower, does not make a book bad or poorly written. Each review is a personal experience to a story. Look at the reviews as a group and most importantly of all, if the story appeals, give it a go. You and I are not the same and nor are the books that will make our reading hearts sing.
About the author
Elizabeth J.Hall works in politics in the UK. Love and Death in Shanghai, her debut novel was inspired by the life and death of her uncle who worked in the Shanghai Municipal Police in the 1920s and 30s. Elizabeth’s first memory is of her mother crying when she received a telegram reporting his assassination.
Elizabeth lives in East Sussex with her husband. After a degree in French, she trained as a teacher with a particular interest in social and health education. She worked in the USA, West Africa and London before becoming a consultant, developing programmes of health education abroad, including Central Asia and Russia.
The author can be followed on her website Website