The Admiral’s Wife

Written by M.K. Tod
Review by Lorelei Brush

M. K. Tod’s newest novel is set in Hong Kong in two different time periods, 1912 and 2016. It focuses on two women: Isabel Taylor, the wife of a British Admiral newly transferred to Hong Kong in the early 1900s; and Patricia Findley, the Chinese daughter of a bank CEO returning to her native city in 2016 from years in New York. Isabel faces considerable culture shock as she searches for her place in this unfamiliar city, largely on her own as her husband is away at sea. She meets a well-to-do Chinese gentleman to whom she is attracted but warned away from, as friendships across the British/Chinese divide are not acceptable. Patricia, a married woman with three miscarriages and a successful banking career in her past, struggles with her father’s expectations that she stay at home and produce a child. She probes her family’s history to understand her father’s rigidity and slowly unfurls a mystery that connects the Taylor and Findley families.

The setting of this novel is described vividly in both time periods with its introduction to the lives of the well-to-do in the crowded city of Hong Kong. The main characters are vulnerable women whose emotional life blossoms as they define their places in society. The mysterious connection of the two families is carefully introduced in small bits and pieces that keep the reader in suspense. It should be a satisfying read for those interested in historical fiction, upmarket women’s fiction, and mysteries.