Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Empress of Asia: A Novel” as Want to Read:
Empress of Asia: A Novel
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Empress of Asia: A Novel

3.20  ·  Rating details ·  65 ratings  ·  21 reviews
"A sweeping epic story of heart-wrenching love and wartime adventure, "Empress of Asia "introduces a stunning young talent hailed as the next great Canadian writer" The year is 1942, and the world is engulfed by war. Young Canadian seaman Harry Winslow has just arrived in Singapore after the bombing of his ship, the "Empress of Asia." One night in the ravaged city, Harry m ...more
Published August 15th 2006 by Raincoast Book Dist Ltd
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Empress of Asia, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Empress of Asia

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.20  · 
Rating details
 ·  65 ratings  ·  21 reviews

Sort order
3 stars

For a debut novel, this book is a big challenge for Adam Lewis Schroeder to have taken on. Told in three parts, the story begins in Vancouver in 1995, ends in Thailand, again in 1995, with the majority of the middle set during WWII in the Malay Peninsula.

At first, I thought this story was going to be set in the Kanchaburi Province in Thailand, which interests me personally, and be more a love story than a war story. Why? Because in Part 1 (31 pages) elderly Lily, stricken with pneumonia,
Nov 14, 2011 rated it did not like it
Started this about the same time as the more recent 'In the Fabled East', which was a great improvement over this first novel of ALS. The narrative is often difficult to follow, either because of the poor continuity of sentences and dialog or due to the plot or action being plain uninteresting. I ploughed through three quarters of it and gave up, finding it meaningless as I was not at all invested in the characters and could not be bothered with the ending. Pity that a story set in such an excit ...more
Feb 10, 2008 rated it liked it
had some very good moments, especially the ending. I liked how it showed the chaos in Sinapore when the Japanese captured the city. The dialoge I thought was poorly written, and the writer used dialoge to move the story along. So it was very hard to understand what was going on.
Sue Williams
May 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good story but difficult to follow in the middle part...too bad as this is the core of the story. I found myself speed reading. the final third part was mych better...enjoyed the ending. Wished i had more compassion for Harry.
Mar 02, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009
The Empress of Asia opens as Harry Winslow's dying wife tells him that Michel Ney, a WWII buddy, is still alive and that Harry must go to Thailand and see him. This begins Harry's quest to a remote area of Thailand to reconnect with his past ... or so he thinks.

Harry Winslow is a wild youth with a love for Fats Waller music and an itch to see the world. Harry joins the merchant marine and finds himself on a ship called the Empress of Asia. The Empress is sunk by the Japanese, near Singapore, and
Nicola Mansfield
Apr 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
An elderly man, seventy-something, visits his dying wife in the hospital and on her deathbed she gives him a cryptic message that sends him back to Singapore, where they both were Japanese POWs. Then the action transfers to 1940 when our narrator is a young man and joins the merchant navy. Thus begins an epic story that spans from 1940 until the present, through Canada, Singapore and Indonesia. A fascinating insight into one man's war, a war that shaped the person he would become for the rest of ...more
Carrie Kellenberger
This has been my surprise novel of the year so far. I picked it up in the discount section of our local bookstore for $4.99 for a trade paperback. Knowing nothing about the book or its author, Adam Lewis Schroeder, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of his writing and how well he developed his characters.

The story opens in present day with Harry Winslow visiting his sick and dying wife, Lily, in the hospital. Lily reveals a secret just before she dies, thus setting Harry on a long journe
May 03, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully drawn characters, wonderful historical detail, and an ending you will never see coming! The reader first me the narrator, Harry Winslow, as he is sitting at his wife Lily’s death bed; Lily gives him the address of an old friend and instructs Harry that he must go to Thailand to see him. Harry then recounts his days as a seaman who finds himself in the middle of the Pacific theater, his marriage and immediate separation from Lily, and his days in Japanese prison camps. The story final ...more
Dec 04, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a great book about a young merchant marine sailor who travels the world, gtes caught in the second world war in the Pacific theatre, is shipwrecked in Singapore, falls in love with a fesity brisish lass, is seperated form her and spends the rest of the war trying to find her swhilst momstly ending up in POW camps. Then, there's a nice denouement that makes you look back at the whole story and say "oh!). Mostly, i liked the voice of Harry, the narrator, a truly ordinary fellow reamining ...more
Sep 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Schroeder colours this adventure of searching for his accidentally separated wife during WW2 with relentless sensory detail, particularly of the horrors of war. That main section of the novel is bracketed with the present times and looks at the nature of secretiveness. It is the story of a survivor. I found it a bit of a challenge to keep track of all the characters, but they are done with creatively unique voices.
Dec 06, 2007 rated it really liked it
A gripping and funny WWII novel. There are about forty sloppy, loose pages toward the end, but otherwise, Schroeder is totally in control. There's seagull-eating, hasty marrying, ship-sinking, Fats Waller-adoring, and secret-keeping, all narrated in a charming, funny, and unsentimental first-person voice.
E.R. Yatscoff
Mar 10, 2014 rated it liked it
A good read but thin on emotion. There's no fear or love in tragic and very dangerous circumstances. But I still enjoyed the overall story. With more emotion I really think it could have been a sweeping epic.
Ευρυδίκη Amanatidou)
Nov 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: contemporary
tenderness, humor and irony in a story of love and war. The central hero is trying to survive despite the adverse and inhuman conditions. Relationships changing roles, the connection of friendship and betrayal.
Jan 02, 2008 rated it liked it
While I liked the story-within-a-story structure and enjoyed the voice of the 70-something ex-seaman protagonist, ultimately I thought the payoff was too small for such a detailed account of madcap adventures during WWII.
Oct 14, 2013 rated it liked it
It was a fast read - lots of adventure.
Bruno de Maremma
Jan 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction-canadian
What can I say? It made me cry. A beautiful, improbable love story wrapped around a tale of adventure and survival during world war 2.
Jan 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Vivid characters, amazing plot, great historical and geographic setting -- but the action dragged at some points due in part to confusing dialogue.
Eva van Loon
Oct 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
It took a while to get into this book and get used to the quirky hero, but persistence paid off with a great love story set during WWII in Singapore.
Feb 21, 2012 rated it did not like it
The first few pages and last few pages were great. The entire middle of the book was a complete yawner!
Apr 04, 2009 rated it liked it
This was on my to find list for a long time. When I found it on a clearance table I was thrilled. It never lived up to it's review but it was stil an ok read.
Karen Melnyk
rated it really liked it
Jun 19, 2013
Linda Sexauer
rated it liked it
Apr 27, 2008
rated it really liked it
Jul 04, 2008
Kelly Frost
rated it it was ok
Jan 10, 2008
Tea Jovanović
rated it it was ok
May 27, 2013
rated it it was amazing
Apr 12, 2012
rated it it was ok
Apr 24, 2012
rated it liked it
Jun 19, 2010
Lynda Briggs
rated it it was ok
Jun 26, 2014
rated it really liked it
Jul 08, 2018
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
Adam Lewis Schroeder grew up in Vernon BC and completed an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia in 1999. He has since traveled widely and published stories in more than a dozen journals and anthologies. In 2001 his short fiction collection Kingdom of Monkeys was shortlisted for the Danuta Gleed Award. His novel Empress of Asia was published by Raincoast in 2006 and Thomas ...more