Fortune Cookie, by Bryce Courtenay

Now I prepared a life-size canvas and began to outline in paint her shape, and the slight tilt of her head…It was a winsome look that never failed to touch my heart. I’d felt it perhaps most powerfully the night I walked into the reception area at Raffles and seen her in the black cheongsam seated in a peacock-tail wicker chair…It had been one of the defining moments of my life, a glorious vision I would never forget.

Simon Koo, an Australian-born Chinese, doesn’t need a career. He comes from a wealthy family, and is heir to a business empire founded by his grandfather, who came to Australia during the gold rush. But, heir or not, Simon works in advertising, and when he’s offered a job in Singapore setting up the creative department for an advertising agency. But in mid-sixties Singapore Simon finds life complicated.

Fortune Cookie is the newest offering from great Australian novelist Bryce Courtney. As with earlier books, the research and sense of place is masterful, with the fictional events heavily influenced by the times in which they are set – with the backdrop of Singapore in the sixties proving a fascinating stage. The characters too are intriguing, with Simon supported by a strong cast including the beautiful Mercy B. Lord, the rogue Wing brothers who run the advertising company, and Simon’s mother, Chairman Meow.

Part love story, part mystery and, at times, part comedy, this is an absorbing read.

Fortune Cookie

Fortune Cookie, by Bryce Courtenay
Penguin, 2010
ISBN 9780670074082

This book can be purchased from good bookstores or online through Fishpond .