Reviewed by Lucinda E Clarke for Readers’ Favorite
I have just finished reading The Opium Lord’s Daughter by Robert Wang, which tells the story of the family of Lord Lee Shao Lin, his daughter Su-Mei and his number one son Lee da Ping during the time of the Opium Wars between Britain and China. Many people may not know of the travesty of this unevenly fought war when the British navy attacked China to ensure uninterrupted trade in tea, porcelain, silks, and spices. Since China had no need to import anything from the west, the currency used to buy Chinese goods was Chinese silver which the British obtained by illegally importing opium into China. Everyone was involved, the Chinese merchants, the corrupt customs officials, the addicts who would do what it took to obtain more of the drug. But then the Emperor issued a decree to halt the trade and the troubles begin. At this time, Sue-Mei meets Travers Higgins from Yorkshire and falls in love – a cross-cultural affair unheard of and disapproved of in 1840. The stage is set for an explosive story in more ways than one.
The Opium Lord’s Daughter is one of the best books I have read this year. I read it in a day and a half and loved every bit of it. The characters leaped off the pages. I connected with Sue-Mei, the heroine, and the words flowed effortlessly. For the hours I was engrossed in this book, I was living in the 1800s in China, surrounded by the sights and smells, the customs, and the laughter and sorrow of the young couple and their family. The historical information was woven seamlessly into the story and I suspect the author researched the facts thoroughly, backed up by the pictures in the back of the book featuring many of the real characters mentioned at the time. A fairly balanced argument from both sides which highlights the greed and avarice and arrogance of mankind which has not changed one iota in the last two hundred years. I highly recommend this fabulous book, and I shall file it away to read again in the future. I wish I could award it 6 stars.