Friday, March 20, 2009

Who Doesn’t Like Immoral Women?


Linda Jaivin, a writer of erotic fiction and a Sinologist (a combination not as rare as you might think actually), has written a new book, A Most Immoral Woman. I’m quite excited to read this book as Linda knows her stuff and the book is based on her findings about the real-life love affair between The Times of London Peking correspondent George (“Morrison of Peking”) Morrison and Mae Ruth Perkins, nympho daughter of an American millionaire. Morrison was captivated by her, a lot of sex ensued and all against the backdrop of 1904 when Japanese and Russian forces were closing in on China's Northeast. So China, history and a lot of sex, which I believe covers all the bases of Jaivin’s interests.

I must confess to knowing Linda a little bit – we had a dinner in Shanghai a while back when she was finishing the book off. Now, I generally like to consider myself a relatively unshockable man of the world but when Linda outlined some of the details I was embarrassingly reduced to a stupid, blushing British schoolboy! Ozzie frankness combined with the details being lavishly laid out before me saw me retreat swiftly to my closeted English socio-cultural roots.

I have a slightly different take on Morrison (as outlined in my forthcoming book Through the Looking Glass: China’s Foreign Journalists from Opium Wars to Mao – a seamless plug I’m sure you’ll agree) to Linda – not that that detracts from enjoying her story of GE and Mae Ruth one bit. I think Linda rather likes him whereas I’ve always been sure he was a pompous, arrogant and hugely overrated bore who trod on anyone who got in his way, never gave proper credit to those who made him appear knowledgeable and got just about everything about China wrong from the Boxers to Yuan Shih-kai. Still, I’m sure Linda will outsell me by miles – and I can’t promise any sex in my book unless you include a description of Emily Hahn’s pet gibbon Mr. Mills masturbating furiously at a posh Shanghai dinner party (there’s a niche market for everything I’m told).

Can’t say much more as I haven’t been able to get a copy of the book yet. Still you can hear a highly entertaining interview with Linda about the book on ABC Radio’s excellent The Book Show by clicking here – and you can read an excerpt from the book on Danwei by clicking here.

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