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Anna Schoene's parents, Joseph and Genevieve, are rich American expats in between-the-wars Shanghai. The child of missionaries, Joseph Schoene has made his fortune living on his wits; he is a man in love with China. For the young Anna, Shanghai is a magical world. But when the Japanese invade and when war comes, Joseph sends his wife and daughter back to America, promising that they will soon be reunited. Despite imprisonment by the Japanese and the loss of much of his fortune, for decades Joseph cannot bring himself to follow them. Anna grows up halfway across the world from her father, and it is only over the years that she gradually learns his real story. . .
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The Distant Land of My Father begins like a fairy tale: "My father was a millionaire in Shanghai in the 1930s.... On the day he was born, in the province of Shantung, neighbors presented my missionary grandparents, the only Americans for miles, with noodles in great abundance and one hundred chicken eggs, in honor of their son's birth." To the young Anna Schoene, life in Shanghai is indeed magical. There are servants, a luxurious villa, a beautiful mother who smells like Chanel No. 5, and a young, handsome, polo-playing father. Unfortunately, her father is also a smuggler and speculator who loves his freewheeling life more than anything (or anyone) else. Despite warnings, Schoene refuses to leave Shanghai even after the Japanese invade, and his wife and child retreat to Los Angeles; later, he survives imprisonment and torture only to once again choose Shanghai over his family--this time with the Communists moving in.
Bo Caldwell's sepia-toned evocation of 1930s Shanghai is lovely and physical, and given the built-in drama of its setting, this first novel ought to have the vividness of a classic movie. Yet the characters remain oddly flat while world events swirl around them. Great chunks of historical exposition seem largely undigested, while Schoene's final change of heart fails to ring true. In a sense, however, these shortcomings are beside the point. The Distant Land of My Father is above all a tragic romance, albeit one with an unusual love interest. Schoene is so besotted with Shanghai that his wife and daughter are scarcely as real to him as the city itself. --Mary ParkAbout the Author:
Bo Caldwell is the author of the national bestseller "The Distant Land of My Father "and the novel "City of Tranquil Light". Her short fiction has been published in "Ploughshares", "Story", "Epoch, " and other literary journals. A former Stegner Fellow in Creative Writing at Stanford University, she lives in Northern California with her husband, novelist Ron Hansen.
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Book Description Charnwood Pub, 2003. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0708994466