Heart of Lies

Heart of Lies

by M.L. Malcolm

Gail Reid: I agree with the other reviewers that this work of historical fiction is "intelligently written" and has a strong narrative force. I learned a great deal from main character Leo Hoffman who escapes from post World War I Hungary to Shanghai, one of the few countries which accepted immigrants without papers. Leo is a man without a country and a Jew; and how these two factors impact his reinvented life in China make for a compelling story.

My enthusiasm waned when it came to the love element between Leo and Martha, a young woman he meets briefly in Paris but plans to marry in 6 months time. While war stories are filled with quick romances and instant marriages, this part of the book lacked the emotional depth from the characters that you would expect to find in a well researched historical novel. I would really rate this book 3.5 because I enjoyed the read. I only hope that the sequel provides more substance to the characters.
Rating: ***

Judy Stanton: What I enjoyed about Heart of Lies is that is was a fast-paced read that interweaves interesting historical perspectives into an international love story. What I didn't care for was instantaneous love at first sight, overly predictable events, the gorgeous couple with a prodigy child, and a quickly sewn up plot, moving on "to be continued." More highly developed characters and settings might have sold me a little more on this novel; Shanghai was certainly an interesting place and Leo a character facing tough decisions. Made for interesting discussion at ORT book club!
Rating: ***

Donna Newman: I agree with Debbie - This book involves the reader from the first page. If you are a lover of historical novels, this book is for you. I have two criticisms, however. First, I wish this book had been longer. The life of the Hoffmans in Shanghai must have been fascinating; the glimpse I had was not enough. Second, I want to know when the sequel will be published.
Rating: ****

Debbie Weiss: "Heart of Lies" was a feature book of the week on the Women's Book Reviews website and it looked intriguing so I decided to read it. I was not sorry as I found it to be a fascinating story incorporating many historical events. The main character is Leo Hoffman, a young Hungarian of Jewish descent with a gift for languages. He was born to a poor family, but taken in and cared for by a wealthy Jewish family in Budapest as a young child. His dreams for a bright future are disrupted by WWI. Upon the war's conclusion, Leo attempts to utilize his language skills to rebuild his life. What happens instead, is that he unintentionally becomes embroiled in an international counterfeiting scheme and he ends up murdering a powerful political figure. To save himself, he escapes to Shanghai where he sends for the woman he loves, Martha Levy.

In Shanghai Leo becomes wealthy and successful and leads a prominent life for many years. Along the way, he and Martha have a daughter and life is good. Eventually, though, Leo's past catches up with him and things begin to go sour. The Japanese bomb Shanghai, fortunes are squandered and lives are lost.

The book is intelligently written and I was involved with the story from the first page. I definitely recommend this book.
Rating: ****

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