In Edna Lee Booker’s delightful book, ‘Flight From China’  her time in Shanghai is described in vivid detail. Edna, had come to Shanghai as a foreign news correspondent for International News service &  reporter for the local China Press. Her professional assignments are covered in her other book, “News is My Job: A Correspondent in War-Torn China.”

Edna had to quickly adapt to the demands of Shanghai’s social life in which she was aided by her loyal Amah.  The several evening soirees that she soon attended required party dresses which were deftly sewn by her house tailor, her joyful garden with a pond, peonies and even a miniature tea house supervised by a hard-working gardener, her marriage to John  Potter (Chancellor?), an American real-estate businessman in Shanghai, the seaside vacations to WeihaiWei, her two children, John jr & Patty…all provide the sweet vignettes of Old Shanghai landscape.

The Shanghai men had a gamut of  entertainment options to choose from: clubs to cabarets as also seedy bars and brothels. The women seemed to have limited choice in that matter though dance and tea parties were plenty.

Edna completes her journey from being a fresh off-the-boat outlander to finally falling for the charms of the middle kingdom and becoming a Shanghailander…though she remains ensconced in her safe cocoon seeing Chinese politics and life either through her news assignments or closer home as she deals with more mundane yet entertaining stuff with her loyal Chinese employees.

Her history of China and Shanghai is to the point and also served as a helpful list of sorts to understand the various political and social upheavals as I was turning the pages. The layered history of Shanghai can be overwhelming but Edna’s style of prose makes it simpler and easier to understand.

So, it’s really quite hunky dory till Japan, China’s old-age enemy shows up. Their villainy when it affects the Chinese is sympathetically addressed including when witnessing the helplessness of a Chinese woman about to be attacked by Japanese soldiers.

As Japan starts invading and Shanghai is becoming more and more dangerous to stay for foreigners it’s time for Edna & her children to go home. Her husband, being a businessman & a Shanghai Volunteer Corps member stays behind.

Then it’s the internment (by the Japanese) account as narrated by John Potter which I though was fascinating as it provided the daily routine, chores, torture the internees experienced. A closer look at life in the internment camp interspersed with gloom, poetry and humor. Then his eventual release along with others where they head back home via Goa, India.

Shanghai, though, is no longer home.

I thoroughly enjoyed a woman’s perspective of Shanghai..it made for a good change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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