In 1936, classical pianist Thomas Greene is recruited to Shanghai to lead a jazz orchestra of fellow African-American expats. From being flat broke in segregated Baltimore to living in a mansion with servants of his own, he becomes the toast of a city obsessed with music, money, pleasure, and power, even as it ignores the rising winds of war.
Song Yuhua is refined and educated, and has been bonded since age eighteen to Shanghai's most powerful crime boss in payment for her father's gambling debts. Outwardly submissive, she burns with rage and risks her life spying on her master for the Communist Party.
Only when Shanghai is shattered by the Japanese invasion do Song and Thomas find their way to each other. Though their union is forbidden, neither can back down from it in the turbulent years of occupation and resistance that follow. Torn between music and survival, freedom and commitment, love and world war, they are borne on an irresistible riff of melody and improvisation to Night in Shanghai's final, impossible choice.
In this stunningly researched novel, Nicole Mones not only tells the forgotten story of black musicians in the Chinese jazz age, but also weaves in a startling true tale of Holocaust heroism little-known in the West.
If you could sum up Night in Shanghai in three words, what would they be?
Jazz in1930's Shanghai
Who was your favorite character and why?
the book is more of the telling of a story than deep characterisations
Would you be willing to try another one of Emily Woo Zeller’s performances?
No. Definitely not. She races through the book, keeping up a momentus pace throughout and all the characters sound short and sharp, with no feelings of characterisation.
If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?
Play it again Sam
Any additional comments?
Well researched, but certainly nowhere as good as "Lost in Translation" or "cup of light". maybe she is better at dealing with less characters.
This I think would be a story and an exposure of a piece of history I would have been interested in hearing about — if only the narrative was voiced by anyone believable . The narrator was terribly mismatched to the characters and content in my opinion . Even driving I-5 I just had to quit listening. I think I’ll go read it.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I enjoyed the musical references immensely and did not expect them to be so detailed. I was especially touched by the section relating to the Jews escaping Germany.
The narrator was FANTASTIC, in my opinion. She had voices for all the characters, had wonderful pronunciation, and used different accents depending on what country people hailed from.
I enjoyed learning about the history of the city and what happened. Not a great story, but easy to listen to...