Posted inFiction

The Empress Lover

The Empress Lover
The Empress Lover

First published in 2014

A witty and playful mystery set in contemporary Beijing, The Empress Lover is Linda Jaivin’s seventh novel and her most accomplished.

While living in Beijing in 2010, an Australian woman, Linnie, receives a mysterious letter. The writer, Reinhard Hoeppli, asks her to meet him at a bar, saying he has something to give her. What’s more, it will answer a question that has long troubled her about her identity. However, this is impossible, for Hoeppli died in 1973. Or did he? This is not the only puzzle in the plot of this thrilling dive into hidden corners of China’s modern history.

Along the way, we meet Sir Edmund Backhouse, a polyglot scholar, closeted homosexual, forger and fantasist. If his memoirs are to be believed, moreover, he was the lover of the redoubtable Empress Dowager of China. He was also Hoeppli’s friend. And Linnie just happens to be writing a novel about him called The Empress Lover.

Like Backhouse, however, Linnie is also a person of many parts and secrets…

Praise for The Empress Lover

‘The Empress Lover is a fascinating work, infused as it is with China’s history, Jaivin’s experience of it, and her own capacious imagination. Surely this is the novel to gain her a reputation as one of Australia’s best and most versatile writers.’

Sara Dowse, Sydney Morning Herald

‘…Jaivin skilfully interweaves fact and fiction, contemporary events with those of Beijing in 1989 and in 1944, within a narrative rich with literary, poetic and philosophical references.’

South China Morning Post

‘This is an elusive and enigmatic piece of writing, its fragmented narrative sifting through layers of Chinese politics and history, uncovering along the way the ghosts of the past that linger so persistently within the present. It’s a touching, inventive and gratifyingly unpredictable novel.’

The Australian