The Fat Man's Daughter

Caroline Petit, Author . Soho $24 (272p) ISBN 978-1-56947-387-0

This debut novel views the Japanese invasion of China through a Westerner's eyes and gets its vivid details right. The time is 1937, and 19-year-old Leah Kolbe is left adrift in Hong Kong after the death of her father, Theo, a shady antiquities dealer. Does Leah belong in "polite Colonial society" or among the Chinese whose languages she speaks? Should she pursue a relationship with the sweet "male ingénue" Jonathan Hawatyne, who has been keeping her father's empty accounts, or with the mysterious Cezar da Silva, whom she meets in a Macao casino? She settles on improving her financial situation by smuggling valuables out of Japanese-occupied Manchuria for Chang, a member of the Chinese resistance. Leah makes the dangerous journey, encounters the puppet ruler Pu Yi (made famous by the film The Last Emperor ) and secures the aid of his chief eunuch, Quan, who is secretly working for the resistance. The group enters Nanking en route to Hong Kong on the eve of the horrific Japanese invasion of 1938. Leah and the other thinly drawn figures are not intended as proper vehicles for telescoping the "rape of Nanking." Instead, Aussie Petit gives readers the journey into womanhood as exotic action-adventure, in the shadow of hundreds of thousands of murders. (June)

Reviewed on: 05/16/2005
Release date: 06/01/2005
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 276 pages - 978-1-56947-424-2
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