The China Affair
by J. T. Gooch

"She fell asleep wondering whether her troubles were over or whether they were just beginning."

Gooch presents a frenzied, romantic rendezvous against the backdrop of communist China. The male protagonist, Jack, is an American who is hired to train teachers in China as part of a teacher exchange program started by the Chinese government. When Jack gets close to a Chinese political training teacher, Angela, everyone around them seems to take notice. Even Angela’s thirty-second private visit to Jack’s room is seen and reported later—when it really matters. Once Jack leaves China, he hears the news that Angela is on trial with the Chinese government for crimes against the state. Her relationship with Jack is the primary piece of evidence brought against her. Despite all odds, Jack makes it his mission to save her, putting both of their lives at risk.

The author is familiar with Chinese culture and the fraught political landscape that citizens must navigate. While this may be a love story, it is also an influential commentary on contemporary China and the precariousness with which men and women must go about their lives. The plot is straightforward for the most part, and it is easy to follow. However, the book opens with a seemingly gratuitous rape scene that is never again mentioned, which may leave readers a bit confused about the trajectory of the narrative. Nevertheless, the story moves quickly, and it is easy to become invested in the characters and their fates. Jack and Angela seem familiar, and readers will find themselves rooting for them even in the most unlikely circumstances.

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