Story starts in Macao in 1928 A beautiful exiled White Russian becomes friendly with a Portuguese family and a handsome Scot who works for the British Government A book with Four Parts that takes us through to 1945.Each part is a separate story with very little linking them together While there are some good moments exploring the historical, cultural and political issues of the time most of the book is on the relationship between Nadia and Iain where finally and amazingly their entire family survives all of the various challenges faced during the Russian Revolution, Opium Wars, and WWII. Much of the book is set in Macau when it was a Portuguese colony, most of the rest in Hong Kong when it was a British colony and under Japanese occupation, with brief visits to pre and post revolutionary Russia and Scotland It contains a murder mystery, a love story, a family quarrel only resolved years later, separated families, reunited families, childlessness, a social project or two, a boy s own style adventure story and anotherrealistic but no less remarkable escape The cast of characters includes Russians, Scots, Portuguese, Macanese, Chinese, English, Japanese and mixed race The action takes place at three, four or five separate time periods, all with historical significance It is a chop suey novel, chuck in everything and hope for the best.Fan Tan is a gambling game where you start with a lot and take most of it away, then see what you have left It might have been better if the author had done the same, concentrated on one story and done it really well There are a few anachronisms, editing problems such as changes of character name and typos in the kindle version There is also something for everyone to enjoy and much of it is certainly very enjoyable The author manages to keep his many characters and locations distinctive, so the book is much less confusing than it might have been Some of the writing is very good and, apart from several characters recounting their entire life history in social situations which would usually involve small talk, none of it is poor.I would like to give the book three and a half stars I will round it up to four, but with a recommendation that the author slow down a little and add a bitcare at the proof reading stage next time. THE FAN TAN PLAYERS Opens InIn Macao On A Cyclone Drenched Quasimodo Sunday Nadia Shashkova, Now In Her Late Twenties, But Originally A Child Refugee From Pre Revolutionary Russia, Is Contemplating Her Diminishing Marital Prospects None Of The Portuguese Suitors Who Pay Their Respects Appeal To Her In The Slightest Independent, Astute, An Outsider, Nadia Is Haunted By Secrets From Her Childhood, Memories Of Violence And Rupture, And One Terrible Secret Above All Others Will Not Let Her Go Enter Iain Sutherland, An Enigmatic Scot Who Is, Officially, A British Consular Representative, And Who Is Very Interested In Nadia For A Number Of Reasons As Nadia And Iain Learn About Each Others Histories, Neither Of Them Can Anticipate What The Future Holds For Each Of Them A Journey Into Russia To Find Something That Has Been Lost, Internment In A Japanese Prisoner Of War Camp, A Courageous Rescue THE FAN TAN PLAYERS Is An Opulent Family Saga, Set In Macao, Russia, The Scottish Highlands And Hong Kong In The S, S And S Exotic And Beautifully Written, It Is A Story Of Love, History, Adversity And Adventure I am not to sure how this book came up on my radar but I am so glad it did.The story revolves around 2 main characters Iain and Nadia and begins with them meeting and how their lives develop over a period of years It is begins and ends in Macao and travels pretty much all around the world in the intervening years, with each telling a story.It is essentially a love story with a load of adventure thrown into the mix as well and I found the ending very moving.The author clearly knows the subject areas well and his descriptive writing relating to the geography is really good I suppose my only slight critiques and thats what they are otherwise this would have been a 5 book are there are 1 2 aspects of the story I did not quite understand the relevance too Also the book jumps quite a bit forward in time and it is not easy to understand although the author does explain at parts what has happened in those missing periods The excursion to Russia and without going into too much detail is far too brief for me, for such an important storyline within the whole plot.In saying that, please do not let that put you off reading this book It really is a cracking read and well worth the 4 I ll certainly be readingof the authors books in the coming years Great stuff. Fascinating book about Macao between 1924 and 1945 Mr Lees paints wonderful and sometimes harrowing word pictures as he describes the Orient after WWI Macao is a polyglot community of Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, British,white Russians, and others There is opium smuggling, spying, celebrations, Japanese occupation and much else going on in the city The story centers around a Russian family of refuges who have made this their home for many years They were burned out of their rural property in Russia by a peasant revolt Mother and daughter, presuming that father was killed, fled to Macao to join the uncle A Scotsman who is a spy with the British Embassy falls in love with the daughter, Nadia When WWII begins they have moved to Hong Kong while the rest of the family remains in Macao Nadia is sent back to her family, but her husband is imprisoned by the Japanese.I could not put the book down when I reached the last quarter of it. This is a love story that takes place at such an interesting time and place The writing envelopes you in the mind and heart of this amazing woman. While this book could have stood a little bitediting and a certain amount of tweaking, for things like typos and just flat out odd words popping up now and then, the plot line was certainly engaging I think the characters themselves could have stood a little bitin depth attention when it came to family history and stuff as well But, all in all, I did enjoy reading it and the author most certainly has a well developed knack for setting the atmosphere up realistically. Opening in Macao in 1928, The Fan Tan Players follows the lives of Nadia, a young woman who fled pre revolutionary Russia with her mother as a child and now works in her uncle s tobacco store, and Iain, a Scotsman in the employ of the British government as a spy, who first encounters her while investigating the illicit opium trade, in an ambitious historical novel spanning cultures, continents and decades The exotic settings were skillfully brought to life, with the faithful rendering of the characters many different accents and dialects making some dialogue passages a trifle hard to decipher but successfully adding to the atmosphere The big jumps in the timeline between the last three parts made the story feel a little disjointed and a number of typos and grammatical errors disturbed the reading flow somewhat at times, but on the whole I found this to be an engaging and enjoyable read. The Fan Tan Players is the story of Nadia, a White Russian, and Iain, a Scotsman, who find themselves in Macao in the 1920s The two are followed through the occupation of Hong Kong by the Japanese and to the end of the war in 1948 The setting is exotic and the lesser known history of the area made for a story that was new and refreshing There are moments of high drama, very well presented, and moments that do not seem to quite fit the emotions I would expect view spoiler After three years of her husband in a POW camp and in the throes of trying to aid in his escape, Nadia takes time to point out the flame tree he wanted her to meet him under was really a maple Just seemed too glib for the situation view spoiler hide spoiler The Fan Tan Players tells the story of Nadia Shashkova, a Russian refugee, and Iain Sutherland, a Scottish spy working for the British government In part one of the book they meet in Macau or Macao, as it was called by the Portuguese, in the spring of 1928 Nadia is 28 and therefore, on the shelf She helps her uncle in his tobacconist shop and looks after her mother who is still in mourning for her husband who was savagely beaten by peasants in Russia and then disappeared Officially a clerical worker in the British Consulate, Iain is an ex soldier who is investigating the source of local opium trading which from the very first page is shown clearly to be dangerous and terrifying.Iain courts Nadia because he believes the opium smuggling is connected to packages of tobacco for her uncle, but soon he is smitten by her, although she remains detached The story of their relationship is deeply entangled in the history of the time The book spans 1928 to 1945 in four parts as Iain travels from Macao to Russia, back to Scotland and finally to Hong Kong at a critical time in world history Fan Tan is a gambling game which Nadia enjoys playing when she is out with Iain and she later proves herself still to be a brave gambler, even with her own life, for the sake of those she loves Both she and Iain suffer many hardships and tragedies but both possess indomitable spirit.I found this novel mesmerising The characters are warm, stubborn and real and the history, only some of which I knew, was fascinating The setting in 1920s Macao is vividly described and atmospheric I shall certainly seek out Julian Lees again.
Julian Lees was born and raised in Hong Kong.He currently lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with his wife and children The great grandson of a high ranking Cossack officer who served under the last Tsar of Russia, Julian is a writer who draws from his family s rich history.His novels are set in a world where East meets West, a cross cultural world which he captures bewitchingly and dramatically i
- 384 pages
- The Fan Tan Players
- Julian Lees
- 09 October 2019 Julian Lees