The Lost Girl Paperback – 8 Aug 2016
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The love story at the book's core is absolutely perfect, and I read the last quarter of this wonderful read with my heart in my mouth, and a real physical ache wanting things to work out. And you don't really think I'm going to tell you how it ends, do you?! --Being Anne Blogspot
This is a gorgeous tale of a forbidden love that grows from childhood, the dangers of a love unrequited, and the strength of belief in your culture in times of upheaval. --Old Victorian Quill Blogspot
A moving romantic novel rooted in its social context, The Lost Girl explores themes of identity and belonging through the story of a young woman of Chinese ancestry and American upbringing at a time when her two cultures remained distinctly separate. --Historical Novel Society Reviews
About the Author
After graduating in Law in the UK, Liz moved to California where she led a very varied life - from cocktail waitressing on Sunset Strip to CEO of a large Japanese trading company. Upon returning to England, she completed a degree in English and then taught for a number of years before developing her writing career. She is published by Choc Lit. Her debut novel, THE ROAD BACK, was voted Book of the Year 2012 by US Coffee Time & Romance, and in the same year, EVIE UNDERCOVER was published, first on kindle, and recently in paperback. A BARGAIN STRUCK, published in September 2013, was shortlisted for the RoNA for Best Romantic Historical, and later in the year, THE ART OF DECEPTION, a contemporary novel set in Italy, was published digitally. A WESTERN HEART, a novella set in Wyoming 1880, was published digitally in spring 2014. THE LOST GIRL, her most recent full-length novel, was brought out in 2015. Liz has a story in each of Choc Lit's anthologies: ANGEL CAKE in Choc Lit Love Match, and CUPCAKE in Kisses & Cupcakes. Each anthology is a collection of short stories by Choc Lit authors, with a recipe accompanying each story.
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Born to Chinese parents, orphaned Charity grows up with an American family who reluctantly take her in, although in time they come to regard her as an almost-relative. Nevertheless it’s not easy being Chinese in a mining town where the locals are feeling increasingly threatened by the presence of Chinese immigrants who are prepared to work for a lower wage than their American counterparts.
This could easily have been the run-of-the-mill story about the outsider who manages to win over the establishment, but a law in America at the time, which forbade American men marrying Chinese women and allowed others to kill his bride without repercussions, makes this a different tale altogether. This historical fact truly shocked me – this is the land of the free, after all! – and I’m grateful to the author for bringing this shameful piece of history to my attention.
Of course, in a Choc Lit novel love always wins in the end, however, the happy-ever-after is for the reader to imagine. Liz Harris sticks by her research and keeps it real.
After rescuing Charity as a baby, she and Joe become firm friends whilst growing up together. But despite Charity growing up in Joe's family she is never seen nor is she treated as a family member despite living with them from a few days old. Even Joe's parents who are good and kind people let their prejudices and fear stop them fully loving Charity and treating her like a daughter and I found this element of the story the most upsetting. She is Chinese and therefore her worth is less than anyone else. Treated more like a commodity than a family member, her worth is measured in how useful she can be around the house although often their mask slipped and we got some glimpses of love from them. However, I felt that their behaviour towards Charity was based more on how they felt about Joe and what his wishes were. Charity faces prejudices on many fronts - The white people hate her because she is Chinese. The Chinese people hate her because of her American ways and is if that isn't enough she is also treated poorly because she is a girl. Sam, Joe's brother resents Charity for living in their home. Chinese workers are taking the White man's job in the mines and Sam hates them for it, with Charity bearing the brunt of his bitterness and poison.
Charity's loneliness throughout the book is heartbreaking. All she has is Joe so she is devastated when Joe eventually reaches an age when he can leave town. Making a friend in the only other Chinese girl in town, Charity's determination to be seen as an American soon undergoes a change and during the long years that Joe is away, Charity becomes a different person, and accepting of her other culture. However, Joe's return to the town of Carter soon upsets the apple cart and the pair must face the truth about their true feelings for one another. But, in a world where hatred and intolerance is prevalent, this is not going to be easy.
In The Lost Girl, Liz Harris has created a book with such powerful imagery that it blows the reader away. Tackling a difficult subject and highlighting what is perhaps a little known subject - the treatment of the Chinese people during this particular era. I have to say this is not something I had even considered and Liz Harris handles the topic well, and in a way that highlights the difficulties faced by the Chinese people living in America. This is a beautifully told story and highly recommended and I want to read more about Joe and Charity and how their story further unfolds.
On Jo's return, seven years later, the novel takes many twists and turns which all keep a reader in a state of suspense until it reaches its superb finale. It is enough to say here that Charity and Jo face serious danger and profound resentment as their relationship changes.
The issues explored in this beautifully crafted novel are explored by the author with depth and sensitivity. Characters are layered and leap from the page with intensity and realism- excellent dialogue. The novel contains fascinating and well-integrated gems of information about both cultures during this historical period. I was transported into the world of Cartertown via the superb descriptions of mining homes, the town streets, big skies and mountains. I was utterly absorbed into another world where the little details of that world were rendered with accuracy and were entirely convincing.
This is a poignant and hopeful story, a brilliant reconstruction of another time and place, but also a reminder to this reader that whilst love can conqueror many serious obstacles it does so at a price. This is a superbly thoughtful and engaging novel and it comes highly recommended.