Stone of Heaven and Earth is an epic tale of love and loss, extravagant expatriate lifestyles, intense danger, heroic acts, and the hideous effects of a cruel and barbaric civil war. Based on the best selling romance author's true family history, this work of fiction spans the years 1914 to 1929. A complex and volatile political scene during and after World War 1 forms the backdrop to the intimate story of two intrepid couples who embarked on the adventure of a lifetime and made their home in China.
As World War 1 begins to envelop Europe, Jack Gorman, an officer of the Chinese Maritime Customs Service, returns home to Australia to ask Anne Houston to marry him. She agrees to follow him back to China and persuades her sister, Darl, to go along as her companion. There, Darl meets Jack's fellow officer, Englishman Oliver Clark, and is attracted to him. For a while, the two couples enjoy a comfortable lifestyle, made occasionally extravagant by the generosity of the elderly and mysterious Madame Liechtenstein, who has befriended Oliver.
However, tensions are not only rising in Europe. In China, volatile domestic politics begins to complicate the operations of the government-run but foreign staffed Customs Service, making their duties more and more dangerous as the country lurches toward civil war.
A wonderful read. I was swept away by this touching and engrossing story of love and courage. Noelle Clark transports us to China with a fine sense of detail and fascinating period insights, skilfully researched. I was right there in all the dirt and heat. China leaps to life with its vibrant sights, smells and shocking brutality. I was gripped by the struggle of the family to survive within the stifling colonial world they have entered. The characters are drawn together through twists and turns and heart-breaking tragedies, naive at first, but growing in understanding as they explore where the boundaries of love lie. A moving story that totally captivated me. - Kate Furnivall, UK Sunday Times best selling author.