Today I would like to welcome you all on my stop on the Blog Tour for Love and Death in Shanghai by Elizabeth J. Hall, and I would like to share an excerpt from the book, with all of you. Please do show some love to all the wonderful book bloggers on this blog tour by following and sharing their work. Enjoy 🙂
About the book:
Publisher: Elizabeth J. Hall
Genre: General Fiction
Release date: 06 03 2018
Price*: Kindle £3.99 (GBP)/ Paperback £9.99 (GBP)
Kindle $5.34 (USD)/ Paperback $12.99 (USD)
Pages: ~ 388
You can get this book here:
Description of the book: 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.
Shanghai, November 1947
The woman clung to the rope ladder which flowed down the black hull of the SS Cleveland, headed for San Francisco. Her feet slithered on the oiled rungs. A red high-heeled shoe splashed into the sullen ripples of the Huangpu River, the other dangled from the toes of her left foot. The ladder tilted. She screamed. A sailor swung alongside to help her climb. The woman’s left arm hooked round his neck. The hand pressed a red pillbox hat to her head, a matching handbag looped round the wrist. She clutched the lapels of a sable coat with her right hand. The woman’s daughter, rescued, watched from the ship’s deck and shivered.
The ship had left the dock in Shanghai an hour earlier when the women were at a party with American soldiers in a hotel on the Bund. They heard the siren’s moan and saw the wheeze of grey smoke from the funnels, as the ship moved along the putrid curve of the river, past the grand buildings, and away from a Shanghai mortified by decadence, gang warfare and Japanese occupation.
The hotel manager telephoned the ship’s captain to say that the fiancée of Colonel Fields, US Pacific War hero, was delayed by traffic but could be ferried out to meet the ship at the lighthouse where the Huangpu River met the Yangtze.
Sailors pulled the woman on board. She looked around, laughed, stroked her coat, and pouted a kiss to a sailor. The ship’s captain and bursar arrived to greet them. The engines throbbed.
Captain Summers suggested that passports be checked over a whisky in his cabin and escorted them downstairs, his hand on the woman’s elbow as she swayed down the staircase, tilted on the single shoe. They sat in shiny leather chairs opposite the captain’s desk. The woman took off her hat, placed it on her lap and brushed back her hair through her fingers. The bursar, standing next to the captain consulted the ship’s manifest. “Confirm your name, please, Madam.”
She sipped the whisky. “Tatiana Shuttleworth, but professional name is Lulu. It’s nice and warm in here.”
“And your date of birth is 1902?”
“No, that is wrong. I was born in 1907. I am only forty. My daughter, Elizabeth, is twenty.”
“Place of birth?”
“Harbin, China. My family is Russian. Daughter born in Shanghai. Father English, but he dead. We British by marriage.”
“Reason for travel?”
She looked at a cluster of diamonds and rubies on her left hand. “I am to marry my fiancé, important man, Colonel Fields. He waits for us in San Francisco.”
“101, Weihaiwei Road, Shanghai, but we interned, by the Japanese, because we British, in Yangchow camp for two years.”
She opened her bag, pulled out a white handkerchief, trimmed with lace, and patted her eyes.
The bursar looked at the passport photograph, then her face. She reminded him of Marlene Dietrich in that old film about Shanghai Lily. A good looker – bright blue eyes, brown waved hair, prominent cheekbones, and a sly Russian accent. He wondered how her teeth were so good after all she had been through.
She twisted the white handkerchief, dabbed her cheeks, and looked down at the damp red shoe, and the other foot smeared in grease. She pulled her skirt over a hole which crept up the silk stocking over her right knee.
“Terrible, terrible. We lose everything. Only allowed one thing. I take red shoes, Japanese guard say that two things I say he not speak good English. One pair mean two. You understand?”
She laughed, looked at her foot and wriggled the toes.
The daughter looked up and pulled the blanket round her shoulders.
“And I take the dolly auntie in England gave me a long time ago. She is now in my suitcase, but where is that?” She looked down and sobbed.
The captain offered more whisky. “You will get the doll back. Not the shoe, I’m afraid.”
He laughed “Do not be distressed, ladies, you are safe now. We have arranged your cabin. Your suitcases are there. You will, of course, travel first class. Please come for dinner with me when you are settled. My bursar will escort you to your deck.”
The woman turned to her daughter, spoke in Russian and stretched out her left hand. The ring sparkled. The captain bent to kiss the fingers.
She paused on deck as the ship bumped into the churn of the Yangtze and the Huangpu. She leaned on the rail, looked across the water and inhaled the stench. The Huangpu had, for years, caught and submerged the consequences of murder, destitution, and chaos. It had swallowed the bodies of humans and animals, garbage, illicit drugs, guns and knives.
She looked back at Shanghai. Evening mist filtered the tiered skyline. She raised a fist and shouted into the breeze: “Ya nikogda ne vozvrashchat’sya – I am never coming back.”
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.
Website – http://www.elizabethjhall.com/
*-the price was taken from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com at the current date. The price might change at your time of purchase. The links used in this post for book purchases are affiliates.