Lead Review (River East, River West)

  • Book: River East, River West
  • Location: China, Qingdao, Shanghai
  • Author: Aube Rey Lescure

Review Author: tripfiction





River East, River West by Aube Rey Lescure

Shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2024

The novel opens in 2007 when 14 year old Alva is observing the marriage ceremony between her mother, Sloan (an American) and a decidedly unsuitable Lu Fang, who wears suits with cheap satin sheens (just one of his many perceived faults). As a family, of course, they have to get on.

Alva’s ambition is to attend The American School in Shanghai, one possible escape from her family set-up but it probably isn’t going to be the nirvana she anticipates. It has two campuses either side of the Huangpu River, Puxi – River West (the old colonial area) and Pudong River East, with ‘its rabid housing developments and family-friendly malls’, the equivalent of suburbia.

The novel then goes back to 1985 Qingdao, setting an historical context for Lu Fang’s life. This was a period when there were virtually no white people in the country and any sightings caused profound curiosity. And in just over 20 years it is apparent that so much has changed, and the speed of that change is quite breath-taking. This is a subtly different story on the nature of the immigrant experience and finding one’s place, and the storyline doesn’t shy away from difficult topics.

Back to book

Sign up to receive our e-newsletter

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.