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Flash House

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  173 ratings  ·  36 reviews
When a plane carrying American journalist Aidan Shaw goes down in Kashmir in 1949, his wife Joanna refuses to accept that he is dead. Convinced her husband's disappearance is no accident, Joanna enlists the help of his best friend, Lawrence Malcolm, a member of Australia's secret service. In search of answers, they set off, bringing along a translator named Kamla, a girl J ...more
Paperback, 472 pages
Published February 1st 2004 by Grand Central Publishing
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Average rating 3.53  · 
Rating details
 ·  173 ratings  ·  36 reviews

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The novel begins in 1949 in India not long after India's Partition. On the surface it's a spy story cum romance and orphan rescue. It's the underlying history that is both fascinating and riveting and if you are not fully aware of what happened there in northern Asia, it will send you scurrying to wikipedia and history books. It's one of those books that I love that combine history with adventure without being cloying or fake. It's also one of those books that lead you to other books and writers ...more
Jun 23, 2011 rated it it was ok
Really, really, REALLY wanted to love this book but either I failed at the task or it failed to seduce me, to draw me in, to enthrall. I guess I'm always a little annoyed when writers add that hackneyed twist that an Indian child or a Japanese child has blue or green eyes with which to bewitch people. Yawn. Snore.
Oct 15, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Okay I'll be generous and give it a 2.5
First of all, at four hundred and some odd pages it was way too long.
Next- the title- I don't get it. Yes, *part* of the book was about a girl in a Flash House or Bordello, but that was only part of the story. What about the rest of it- journalist husband disappears, wife goes after him etc.
And now we've hit the story itself: I think the title being non-reflective of the whole book is an indication that the author just didn't know where she was going with
Jan 28, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Maybe if you liked The Kite Runner but want more intrigue and less gore
I was sucked in pretty early on, and by the end of the book, was desparate to know the fates of these characters. But the ending left me feeling a bit of Kite Runner-esque de ja vu... the depressing sting of humanity's ability to f---- up. Sad, but in the dulling sense. No tears shed.
Nov 07, 2009 rated it it was ok
Oh thank God - I've been pushing and pushing myself for weeks to get this finished. I've read two other novels during that time. Dull story populated by uninteresting characterisations. Frustratingly dissatisfying.
Aug 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gympie-library
Flash Aimee Liu.
A most enjoyable book, filled with suspense and intrigue.
Set in 1949 in the post WW2 era in S.E. Asia.
Joanna Shaw manages a retreat for the young girls sold into prostitution in New Delhi's 'Flash Houses.' while her husband Aidan, a Chinese American Journalist with 'socialist leanings, is covering a story.
She rescues and subsequently tries to adopt a young 10 year old girl girl called Kamla.
When Aidan is re-assigned to travel to cover the civil war in Kashmir the p
Jul 09, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Flash House – this book did not live up to its promise of the beginning. Initially the story of Kami and Joanna as they trek over the mountains looking for her missing husband, Aiden, had me enthralled. They also discover more about Kami. I enjoyed the development of the characters and their relationships. Then it changed – the book “plateaued”. After not finding her husband, but still convinced that he is alive, Joanna changes and becomes “conspiracy driven”. She doesn’t / can’t communicate wit ...more
Aug 15, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
India is wonderfully realised in this historical thriller and social commentary.

A difficult book in some ways - grim and confronting in its picure of institutionalised exploitation and violence against women. The almost exclusively female voices show a man's world, or rather several worlds: international intrigue, diplomatic circles, forced prostitution. Of course, women are not blameless here and betrayals and failures to act abound.

Five characters maintain our focus: Joanna, Lawrence, Kamla,
Jan 14, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good Story mystery, romance, adventure,tragedy, politics 1950s Communists, spies etc. A really well researched story. Bit harrowing in places child prostitution in India's back streets is not a pleasant subject. Wrote from the perspective of three people, one an American wife, one an Australian friend and lover and one an indian orphan girl.
Not your traditional happy ending although the book left you with an ending that felt possible and closed off the story.
I would have given it four stars but
A compelling historical/suspense novel about India-China just after WWII.
We have a trek through the Himalayas, a woman searching for her missing husband who may or may not be a Communist spy, murder, ill-advised romance, a bit of pre-teen angst, and a young girl's struggle to survive after escaping from life in a brothel.
Although (view spoiler) this gi
Oct 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
All I can say is, "WOW"! I haven't read a book with this many twists and turns in a long time! Just when you think you have had the last surprise, the author throws in another one! I must admit, that I was struggling a little while the story was fixated on the physical trek to find Aiden, but if you feel the same way, stick with it and I promise you will be glad you did! So much depth to the story lines and their characters!
Sep 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
I feel a bit bereft having finished this, I got so caught up in it. I had no idea of the politics of the region of that time so that was interesting and all nicely tied together with the love story. Fascinating!
Jun 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
What a crazy book. I loved it and hated it. It was a super easy read because I wanted to find out how it all turned out. I was so sad for all the characters in the book and how complicated all of their lives were.
Apr 06, 2009 rated it it was ok
I read to page 214 and decided it just wasn't worth it. It's a thriller and nothing was revealed on up to page 214 so forget it! So many books so little time.
May 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Intriguing story, well written, disturbing—perhaps because it reflects life more than I want to admit.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jenni Ritchie
Not bad, certainly not predictable. The setting intrigued me since I'd just been to Delhi.
Dec 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
Set against the background of post-WW2 China and India. Joanna Shaw is in India with her husband, a journalist - or is he? She rescues a young girl with aquamarine eyes from a brothel, or "flash house", and takes her to the rescue home Joanna runs for girls trafficked in to Delhi's red light district. When Joanna's husband disappears in a plane crash, she takes her young son and her husband's Aussie friend along to help find him, and this young girl to save her from being forcefully returned to ...more
Arnaz Dhanbhoora
Jun 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Indrani Chatterjee Tara Kapur
It is set in India and Central Asia at the start of the Cold War, featuring two unforgettable heroines whose fates are irrevocably intertwined.
When a plane carrying American journalist Aidan Shaw goes down in the Himalayas, his wife Joanna refuses to believe he's dead. Convinced her husband's disappearance is no accident she enlists the help of his best friend Lawrence Malolm, a member of Australia's secret service. They set off in search of answers, bringing along Kamla as translator. Kamla is
Jun 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up at a book swap awhile ago. Just getting started but so far we have met Kammy, a young girl who was forced into an Indian brothel after being taken from her parents. She is horribly attacked by the local police before being rescued by Joanne Shaw, a social worker living in India with her journalist husband, and young son Simon. Jo's husband goes missing and his best friend Lawrence joins Jo and Simon, and Kammy, to set out by foot across the mountains to China where his plan ...more
A long read, which I felt could have been edited and shortened. But I finally got to the end. My score for this book varied between two and three, depending what part of the story I was at. It finally ended at two, when that possessive little sh... kid Simon shot Lawrence and then got off Scot-free, because Kamla willingly took the blame. But I am pleased Kamla did alright in the end and found a good life.
Ann Mccormack
Dec 31, 2012 rated it liked it
Enjoyed the journey however it was a bit disjointed at times and I found the imperialistic attitude of some of he characters annoying.
This novel kept me interested and informative about "the game" that plays with the lives if many innocent people.
Gato Negro
Jan 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Wow - very interesting historical fiction. I would have preferred to have had a computer nearby while reading it as there were a lot of unfamiliar terms in it and lots of Asian geography for which I could have used a map in order to better understand. All that aside, I enjoyed it.
Feb 12, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked it a lot but possibly because I've become familiar with the area, having read some travel books and passed through some of the places. The descriptions of the land were pretty accurate. It's a pity Aidan's story wasn't added to the two voices in the story.
Casandra Hutchinson
Jul 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The trials of my life now seem so insignificant. I wasn't stolen from my family to be a sex slave, only to be adopted and taken on an endless journey.
Jul 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The trials of my life now seem so insignificant. I wasn't stolen from my family to be a sex slave, only to be adopted and taken on an endless journey.
Dara Young
Jul 24, 2009 rated it liked it
A pretty intriguing story that ended differently than I expected. Thankfully, the overall story was one of survival despite some let down.
Jan 23, 2010 rated it it was ok
A bit disappointing - a trip to India and the Kush minus the exotic.
May 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written, this book has an exotic locale, wonderfully realized characters, romance, adventure and surprising plot twists. I recommend it totally.
Laurie Stoll
Feb 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
I thought this was an exquisite book. Very touching.
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Aimee Liu is a best-selling novelist, essayist, and nonfiction author based in Los Angeles.

Her 2020 novel GLORIOUS BOY, published by Red Hen Press, has received rave endorsements:

"The most memorable and original novel I've read in ages. Aimee Liu… evokes every side in a multi-cultural conversation with sympathy and rare understanding."
– Pico Iyer

“A riveting amalgam of history, family epic, antico

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