It’s 1994. All Captain Stephen Cannon knows of Anna, his Russian émigré mother, and Alex, his aviation-pioneering father, is from their China Diaries, their personal journals that chronicle their courtship in China through Pearl Harbor. Then, after an epic escape from the siege of Hong Kong by Clipper, carrying important documents to the States, they disappear into the maelstrom in 1943.
From the diaries, Stephen has always been embittered by the conviction that his mother abandoned him and returned to China with no explanation. Now, fifty years later, he receives a call from a Chinese exchange student whose great uncle has just emigrated to Hong Kong from the PRC bringing with him Anna’s Russian map case, journals, a strange medal, and the incredible story of how they escaped the infamous Japanese rape of Nanking, in 1938.
Beset with revisionist intent on suppressing his mother’s story, Stephen jets to China to recover the diaries and discover the real reason why Anna left. In doing so he enters the nineteen-thirties world of his mother: a China beleaguered with warring political factions, ten years of Japanese aggression, espionage, love, betrayal and an environment where émigré women survived by using their wits and beauty.
“This is historical fiction the way it ought to be. The characters are believable, the flying scenes accurate to the finest detail, the tragedy of WWII evoked with honest, clear-eyed realism. Best of all, China Diaries just happens to be a cracking good story,” says Robert Gandt, aviation author of China Clipper, Acts of Vengeance and more.
Read the book review which is included on this website at
China Diaries by Van E. Harl
LOUIS STANNARD is a professional pilot having accumulated over 23,000 hours in commercial and military aircraft. For seven years, he and his wife Carol lived aboard their 47-foot ketch Sea Jay exploring the Caribbean. They now live in North Carolina where he writes full time.