Book Review – Shanghai Grand

by Taras Grescoe (Macmillan) ISBN: 9781447253433

We are living in an era of literature where stories are woven from historical facts. It’s an era I’m thoroughly enjoying and one in which Taras Grescoe has made a confident contribution in this novel.

Mickey Hahn finds herself in the treaty port of Shanghai in the early thirties before the outbreak of the Second World War. Here she firmly plants her journalistic foot in the world of European and American Shanghailander society with the likes of Sir Victor Sassoon, and her adventurous and artistic foot in the midst of the Chinese intelligentsia with a man she falls in love with, Zau Sinmay.

Through an often tangled and sometimes repetitive history lesson, coloured with novel attributes, Grescoe describes and illuminates Shanghai during a period of immense global upheaval. Though richly researched and emotively told, the book hasn’t brought together history and storytelling as well as it might have.

Justine Cullinan

Posted on: 1st June 2016