Uncle Louis is sent with Theo and Pauline from Shanghai by the Deng family to start an antique business in Paris. He plans to arrange his son, Theo’s marriage and set him up in the business so he can return to China. But Theo manages to delay the arranged marriage first by further education, then finally by working as an interpreter for the British during WW1. When Pauline learns her uncle’s first wife is arranging her marriage, she is desperate to find her cousin to help her convince her uncle not to send her back to China. She rushes to Noyelles where Theo has been working with Chinese labourers but is distressed and fearful by what she discovers.
Every Janie Chang book I’ve read has been a five out of five. This one delves into a neglected part of World War1’s history that I had never read about which is seen through the eyes of its main characters—Theo and Pauline Deng and their friend Henri Liu, a Chinese journalist.