Reviewed by Connie Werner
An opioid epidemic. A trade war. Not America in 2020, but China in the 1840s.
This is not your typical boring historical saga. It is filled with life, drama, suspense and passion. It’ll hook you from the beginning and won’t let go. Follow the harrowing journey of Lady Su-Mei and her family in Robert Wang’s debut novel, a historical drama told from dual perspectives—Chinese and British—about the First Opium War, a tragic and history-altering conflict. The story artfully weaves actual events and characters into the narrative, offering the reader a glimpse into a world populated with rogue drug traders, imperialist officials, religious zealots, and scrappy survivors.
The lead character, Lady Su- Mei, is a young woman who rebels against convention. She bravely resists her father’s wishes, who is one of the largest opium dealers in mid-19thcentury China—who attempts to force her into the barbaric practice of foot binding. That’s not all. She rebels against just about anything. Lady Su-Mei’s defiance sets in motion a series of events, forever altering her fate, as well as the fates of those she holds dear to her heart. She is forced to rapidly come of age and muster her heroic spirit to survive her crumbling world. Forbidden romances, tumultuous adventures, and heart-wrenching tragedies befall Su-Mei and her loved one throughout the story.
The Opium Lord’s Daughter is an expedition through the destruction of a culture, underscoring the hold and havoc drug empires continue to exert in society, even to this day. This is a must-read for fans of Shogun, Downton Abbey and White Queen.
About the Author
Robert Wang spent years researching the history, facts, and fictions of the Opium War, talking to numerous experts on the subject both in the U.S. as well as in China. He was granted rare private tours of the museums led by some of China’s preeminent scholars on the subject. Wang was born in Japan and raised in Hong Kong.
This is one of the best books I have read in a long while. I was absolutely enthralled reading this novel. It unfolds like a dramatic film, and the characters are very well developed. Fast-paces and colorful with twists and turns in the plot, I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in fantastic, page-turning historical fiction.