FIRE IN HEAVEN by Malcolm Bosse
Kirkus Star


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A dramatic, vivid, highly detailed novel of China during the Revolution; the sprawling sequel to Bosse's equally sprawling The Warlord (1983). In The Warlord, Bosse described the China of 1927, focusing on the lives of three people: General Tang, a powerful Chinese patriot fighting to consolidate the country under his rule; his beautiful and aristocratic White Russian mistress, Vera Rogacheva; and Philip Embree, a young American fighting with Tang who eventually betrayed him to his enemies out of love for Vera, and fled the country with her at a time when she was pregnant by Tang. Here, the story opens 20 years later in Bangkok, where Vera runs a successful business and lives in comfort with her beautiful daughter, Sonia, Tang's child. Philip (now Vera's husband by an unhappy marriage of convenience) went off to fight the Japanese in 1939, and still hasn't returned. Raised on tales of her illustrious father, Sonia is a proud, willful girl who takes as a lover Chamlong, a half-Chinese Thai who is a member of a secret Communist society in Bangkok; when he and Sonia kill a man who is following them--Chamlong is certain he's a government agent--they decide to run off to China to join the Revolution, although Sonia secretly wants to visit old scenes from her father's life. Vera frantically attempts to follow to bring her back, but has a heart attack in Shanghai and has to rely on Philip, who has appeared after years fighting with Stillwell's men in Burma--he's now spying on the Reds for the US Army. He finds Sonia (who's taken a Chinese name) but falls in love with her, and they have an affair--Chamlong has long since gone off to fight against the Nationalists. In the end, the two of them are separated by the war, and Philip is killed in a bombing raid. Vera returns to Bangkok, and Sonia enters Peking with a triumphant Communist Army. A year later, she's still waiting for Philip to show up; the new regime looks askance at her because she's only half-Chinese and, to make matters worse, she's just given birth to a blue-eyed boy--Embree's child. Overlong in places, burdened with flashbacks for those who haven't read The Warlord--but, overall, a good romantic novel, where historical events and personalities mesh perfectly. Stay tuned for Part III.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1985
Publisher: Simon & Schuster