Empress of Asia
Adam Lewis Schroeder
Dunne, Mar 2008, $24.95
Harry Winslow is stunned when his wife Lily on her death bed at St. Paul Hospital informs him that his French World War II buddy Michel Ney was still alive; Harry had thought Michel had died several years ago. She gives him an address and unanswered questions like how did she know this man whom he assumed she never met. His quest to meet up with the Frenchman who saved his life back in 1942 takes him to Kanchaburi Province, Thailand.
On his quest Harry reflects back to his days as a Canadian marine in Singapore. He met, married and lost Lily there in one day when the Japanese invaded the island and captured him as a prisoner of war. He went to a Japanese prison camp where he met Michel. They became friends until the Japanese separated them. He later learned Michel died trying to escape internment. After the war ended, Harry finds Lily, freed form a women’s prison, but she hid a dark disturbing secret from her husband.
EMPRESS OF ASIA is a fascinating look at the negative impact of war on the lives of people even decades after the conflict is over. The story line is superb when it focuses on the three main characters in the present and during WW II. However, there is an overwhelming sense of place due to overwritten but picturesque descriptions of geography. Still filled with excitement, readers will appreciate Adam Lewis Schroeder’s fine tale that armchair cheerleaders insisting the surge is working should read to understand the long term side effects of war on the soldiers (and their families).