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The Fan Tan Players [Kindle Edition]

Julian Lees
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £7.99
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Book Description

THE FAN TAN PLAYERS opens in 1928 in 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 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. Exotic and beautifully written, it is a story of love, history, adversity and adventure.

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'Satisfaction, even joy, accompanies the discovery of a new author, one previously unfamiliar, who proves his ability within a few pagesand then tells and exciting tale. Without hesitation, Lees flexes his impressive storytelling muscles, giving readers an undeniable tingle of anticipation that he may have many more tales to tell.' --Cairns Media Magazine

About the Author

Julian Lees was born and raised in Hong Kong. After attending Cambridge University he worked for ten years as a stockbroker with UBS and Société Générale. Since then he has written two novels: A Winter Beauty and The Fan Tan Players . Both novels have been translated into German and published by Random House Germany with a third set for release in 2011. The Fan Tan Players has also been published in Polish by Proszynski Publishers. Julian currently lives in Malaysia with his wife, Ming, his three young children, Augustus, Amber, and Aisha and his constant canine companion Boobert.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Action, adventure & historical detail 20 Nov. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
“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.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Where to start with this book which I wanted to love and almost did but in the end it annoyed me no end. Poor editing, two-dimensional characters, gratuitous plot details designed merely to show you how much research the author (former stockbroker lived HK 10 years) had done.

& yet there were passages of vivid and super evocative writing, I almost felt I was back in Macau in 1928 at times, could smell the post-typhoon streets and the tai pai tong scene had me almost drooling.... it might be worth reading for these passages alone.

However, the plot, beautiful White Russian stranded in Macau meets gruff red-haired Scotsman on secret colonial, opium smuggler hunting, service, simply groaned under the weight of barely digested research, particularly in the potted history of the Russian Revolution and HK POW scenes which seemed to be lifted verbatim from Philip Snow's magesterial book on the fall of HK.

Additionally, all the secondary characters were given heavy accents - eg: just so you knew Costa was supposed to be Portuguese, he spoke with apparently random sh- instead of plain "s" - dropped in all over the place. You can well imagine how the Russian babooshka and the Japanese mafia boss's speech was rendered? Inconsistently, random & frankly almost racist.

Sadly too, Nadia the heroine never convinced; her thoughts sounded exactly like a man working out what a woman would think. Too many sub-plots - evils of Stalin, evils of abandoned Chinese babies, evils of colonial HK Peak society - too.

The other Amazon reviews are mainly very good although they have the smack of being written by those somehow in the know? Also looks a bit like a vanity publisher although I can't be sure.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Love and loss in the Far East 6 Aug. 2010
The Fan Tan Players is an intriguing family saga set in turbulent 1920s China - Macau in particular - and the early years of the Soviet Union. The author explores the personal themes of love and loss, duty and responsibility, friendship and enmity against the wider historical background. The novel traces the unfolding love story of the main characters: Nadia, a White Russian and escapee from Soviet horrors, and Iain a Scottish diplomat. Detailed research adds vivid colour to the descriptions of everyday life of the time, with a host of minor characters, in all of whose stories the reader becomes involved. The novel builds to a dramatic unforeseen denoument.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A fairly good read 10 April 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It was quite good and entertaining but did not develop characters enough - ie Anna a lot more could have been written about her. Also the plot was very far fetched when escaping from internment camp, and rescuing Nadia's father. There were a lot of areas introduced but skimmed over, and the stupid accents were totally unnecessary.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting tale. 5 July 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This was an interesting novel, not an unusual story of Japanese occupation of Hong Kong. I got irritated by the effort to interpret pigeon English. There were some lovely metaphors however in some description of weather and terrain.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Asian Divnci Code, only less predicatble 3 Oct. 2010
By clive
A great book with plenty of cliff hangers at the end of chapters, but you don't role your eyes when you start the next chapter as they are not predictable. Secondary characters such as Costas are well developed and keep the reader interested in the developing fortunes of all the books characters, not just the two main ones: Iain and Nadia.
The first section of the book is somewhat of a detective story with the emerging love story in the background, thereafter the love story gets begins in earnest and the main protagonists 9-5 job takes a back seat and the book starts to get traction. The final chapter covers the period of Japanese occupation in Hong Kong is the high point of the book - the attention to detail of the setting and one assumes the realities of life in a Japanese Internment Camp make it the most compelling section of the book.
The location for the Fan Tan players will provides plenty of landmarks for those who have visited or lived in Maccau and to a lesser extent Hong Kong, but an absence of knowledge of these places does not take away from the book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
wonderful book
Published 5 months ago by BRENDA ADAMS
5.0 out of 5 stars good reading.
I found this book to be a very good read that kept my interest throughout. The story unfolded gradually without having an obvious ending too soon.
Published 11 months ago by Pamela Mitchell
2.0 out of 5 stars After the first 4 chapters I skipped more pages than ...
After the first 4 chapters I skipped more pages than I actually read. The story was far fetched, badly written and those ridiculous accents drove me mad!
Published 12 months ago by Sandra.
5.0 out of 5 stars History and romance
A very good read combining an interesting time in history and a good character driven story. Well worth a read.
Published 13 months ago by Michele Rietmann
4.0 out of 5 stars A good suspenseful read
I enjoyed the plot, characterisations and historical insight. Having been to both Macau and Hong Kong several decades ago it was good to increase my background knowledge base.
Published on 2 Mar. 2013 by Sarah Singleton
3.0 out of 5 stars A fast paced adventurous love story
In this story Julian Lees really has thrown everything into the mix, Russian history, Chinese and Japanese history, the Second World War, a love story, a thriller, a tale of... Read more
Published on 20 Sept. 2010 by Mrs. K. A. Wheatley
5.0 out of 5 stars Full of Oriental Action, Drama and Romance
This is a well paced story travelling between Macao, Russia, Hong Kong and Scotland during the troubled years of 1928 to 1945. Read more
Published on 15 Sept. 2010 by A. Rose
3.0 out of 5 stars Russia, Macao, Scotland, Hong Kong
This novel spans the years 1928 - 1945, most of it taking place in Macao, though moving to Scotland, and then to Hong Kong at the time of the Japanese occupation. Read more
Published on 14 Sept. 2010 by Eileen Shaw
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