Mr. Daniel Kalla is best known for his medical thrillers, having read and enjoyed every one of his previous novels I can honestly say this latest addition has to be one of his best and is definitely a page-turner.
“The Far Side of the Sky” is more a love story than a suspense novel, it recounts the period of war torn Shanghai as seen through the eyes of two main characters- Dr. Franz Adler, a secular Austrian Jew and Soon Yi Mah, a native Eurasian nurse. Their lives are caught up in a whirlwind of events in a unique time and place. Although the protagonists are fictional, Mr. Kalla’s notes at the end of the novel indicate he wanted to stay as faithful as possible to the history, culture and geography of Second World War Shanghai. Some of the minor characters including the Nazis and Japanese officials are true historical figures. Mr. Kalla has chosen a very challenging period and engaged his imagination to highlight some events that are recorded in history. By doing so, he has painted a dramatic tale that transports the reader from Austria in the late 30’s to Shanghai early 40’s.
The fast moving plot is narrated in a clear and simple form and opens in Vienna, on Nov.9. 1938- Kristallnacht. Franz Adler, a once prominent surgeon, realizes life as he knew it is degrading fast, his brother has paid the price with his life and danger lurks at every corner. When a window to escape to Shanghai with his daughter and sister in law opens, he seizes the opportunity it may be their only hope for survival.
Once in Shanghai, we follow the lives of the two main characters: Franz and his struggle to get back into the medical field and a young half Chinese nurse, Soon Yi “Sunny” who is a brilliant young woman and a competent surgical nurse. Their working lives eventually cross at a refugee hospital and the chemistry between them blossoms.
I was totally captivated by this surreal tale and once again one of my favourite author’s has produced an outstanding novel.