Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Book Review: A Cold Season in Shanghai

Here's the third of my three reviews for the February 2010 Historical Novels Review.

S.P. Hozy, Rendezvous Press, 2009, $19.95, pb 254pp, 978-1-894917-79-7

Shanghai, in the years before World War One. Tatiana and her family have escaped Tsarist Russia after the peasant revolt of 1905 and are making a new life in the international section of China's most glamorous city. Making friends among the Chinese elite and the international community, Tatiana and her sister Olga take converging paths – Olga toward the conventional, Tatiana toward Shanghai's decadent nightlife. When her unconventional choices lead her to an agonizing moral decision, Tatiana makes a choice which leads to the death of a promising and brilliant young musician, and changes the life of her friends, and her fate, forever.

This is a promising story with interesting characters and good historical detail, but it is marred by uneven pacing, head-jumping points of view, and telling rather than showing. Hozy does a good job evoking the world of Shanghai from 1905-1925, but the story did not flow, which is a shame, because the premise and the characters are so promising.

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