Australian author and journalist Emma Harcourt’s debut novel, The Shanghai Wife, is a gripping tale of forbidden friendship, political conspiracy and incendiary passion. It is due for release on 18 June.

The story takes place in 1920s Shanghai, where Annie Brand finds herself after leaving behind the loneliness and trauma of her past in country Australia. Journeying up the Yangtze with her new husband, the ship’s captain, Annie revels in the sense of adventure, but when her husband decides the danger is too great and sends her back to Shanghai, her freedom is quickly curtailed.

Against her will, Annie finds herself living alone in the International Settlement, increasingly suffocated by the judgemental Club ladies and their exclusive social scene. Sick of salacious gossip and colonial condescension, and desperate to shake off the restrictions of her position in the world, Annie is slowly drawn into the bustling life and otherness of the real Shanghai, and begins to see the world from the perspective of the local people, including the servants who work at her husband’s Club. But this world is far more complex and dangerous than the curious Annie understands and unknowingly, she becomes caught in a web of intrigue and conspiracy as well as a passionate and forbidden love affair she could not have predicted.

Described by author and historian Paul Ham as “a superb debut, conjuring all the mayhem of pre-revolutionary China through the eyes of a young Australian woman”,  The Shanghai Wife has also received praise from high profile Australian authors such as Caroline Overington (The Lucky One and The One That Got Away), Nicole Alexander (An Uncommon Woman) and Kathryn Heyman (Storm and Grace).

The Shanghai Wife by Emma Harcourt published by HQ Fiction is out June 18 RRP $29.99.

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