110 SHANGHAI ROAD by Monica Highland


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East meets West and absolutely refuses to shake hands in this interminable multigenerational saga from the triple authors of Lotus Land, 1982 (""Highland"" is in reality writers Carolyn See, Lisa See Kendall, and John Espey). Gentle, scholarly Matthew Granger (son of a missionary) and bluff, bullying Harley Compton Fitch III (son of a corporate pirate) grow up together in the international community of prewar Shanghai lusting after the same girl, Jordan Logan-Fisher, daughter of a British diplomat. Fitch is so enraged when Matthew wins out that he rapes Jordan; she's so ashamed that she doesn't tell Matthew, instead running off to join the Red Army, where she gives birth to a son, Andrew. Meanwhile, Matthew assumes she's been killed by the invading Japanese. He and a secretly gloating Harley go through Oxford together, and Matthew later joins Compton Fitch Enterprises in Washington, D.C., where Harley is cornering the market as a war privateer. But the State Department sends Matthew to China on an undercover mission--and he discovers a harridan-like Jordan grubbing for roots as a ""revolutionary wife""; she won't leave with him, but tells him the story of the rape; Matthew races back to America and quits Harley's employ for good. By now married with two children, Matthew prepares himself for a political career, which a jealous Harley sabotages by secretly getting him sent on another mission to China--to bring out Americans trapped by the Red horde. Matthew does manage to get them (including Jordan and Andrew) out, but as Harley had expected, he's branded a Commie by Joe McCarthy and the boys, and his life is ruined. He runs off to China, where he works with farmers as a kind of Albert Schweitzer of the Far East. Nearly 20 years later his son Paul meets Jordan's son Andrew, and the two become, ho-hum, lovers and discover their intertwined pasts. The novel finally, mercifully, drags itself to a close when Matthew (a Nobel Laureate) and Jordan (a Dame of the British Empire) meet at Oxford and resume the affair so rudely interrupted years before. In sum: a more than usually dense and tiresome everything-but-the-kitchen-sinker--slated to be a TV mini-series in 1987. Not mini enough.

Pub Date: July 21st, 1986
Publisher: McGraw-Hill