If you've seen The World of Suzie Wong, you got a glimpse of 1950s Hong Kong as seen through the eyes of Hollywood.
The fairy tale ending is typical of Tinseltown, but the lingering question is whether real people could ever sustain a relationship as portrayed in the movie. Have you ever wondered what became of Robert Lomax and Suzie Wong?
That's where my friend Sebastian Gerard (a pseudonym) comes in. A retired university professor of urbanism and media, Gerard has authored For Goodness Sake: A Novel of the Afterlife of Suzie Wong.
I was fortunate to review an advance copy, and I agree with Nancy Kwan's (the star of the film) comments in the preface:
I found Sebastian Gerard's book FOR GOODNESS SAKE: THE AFTERLIFE OF SUZIE WONG to be quite splendid!
It is both thoughtful and engrossing. Gerard captures the multifaceted culture of Hong Kong - the essence of the ever-changing city of commerce.
It is a story of loyalty, betrayal, sex, politics and enduring love, all neatly woven into the modern Hong Kong of today.
It's all that and more.
Many of the observations I've made of Hong Kong over the years are reflected throughout the book, which enhances its authenticity. Such observances can only be made by someone with a keen eye who has spent a significant amount of time here.
The story itself is written from the point of view of an urbanist, as evidenced by the pointed remark: "You can love a city. Just don't expect it to love you back." Gerard's students will recognise that axiom, and it's never been more true anywhere else than Hong Kong.
So how did Suzie's life turn out?
If you're curious, read For Goodness Sake, fuhgoodnessake.