Asian colonies were the jewels of a British empire, spanning the globe. In the interwar years, none was more venerated or valued than the tiny harbour of Hong Kong. In a society riven with racism, snobbery and danger, an entrepreneur could also attain unlimited wealth and be as easily robbed of the same fortune. A fragile stratosphere of interests heightened a sense of insecurity that was never more apparent than in the period prior to Japan’s invasion, both of Shanghai in 1937 and Hong Kong later in 1941.
Matthew had a place in this society and arrived from university with a desire to join his father at Shanghai Commercial Bank. His intention was to make his fortune in this society and further his patriotic duty to the Empire. Compromised through a relationship with the libertine Judith who seduces the once naïve aspirant, his ambition is pulled apart both through the invasion and a self destructive drive that leaves Matthew’s plight as fragile as that of his venerated Empire. In counterpart, Camilla tries to replace Judith only to find herself abandoned. Only through the protection of the pragmatic Raymond can she survive and escape the fate of occupied Hong Kong.
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