Hong Kong’s demi-monde at the height of the British Empire… Franziska Goldmann, an opera singer fallen on hard times, has become the star courtesan in 19th century Hong Kong. A chance encounter with Queen Victoria’s musical second son seems to offer Franziska an opportunity to resume her career as a singer. But it is the other unpredictable characters in her life, including her German anarchist lover and a devious procurer, who may ultimately determine her destiny. The haunting story of a lone woman’s struggle to escape her fate, Gage Street Courtesan unfolds against the ironically observed background of colonial society, from the waterfront brothels to the mansions of the rich.
“The magic of this book lies in the many accounts given by many characters; what they are doing and thinking are revealed in parallel in a fashion similar to that of a split-frame in a film. In this way, they reveal their shady pasts, their present schemes and desires and their wishful hopes, a little at a time… Here is a big round of applause for the beautiful balance of sound historical research and the frightfully vivid imagination which make up this fictional Hong Kong, once upon a time.”
Review from Cha: An Asian Literary Journal (March 2014)