American Alice, by Richard Freeborn

ISBN: 9780956803825
: 110pp
:  23rd August 2012
: Dynasty Press Ltd

Set in China at the time of the Russo-Japanese War, it is the story of a passionate love between an Anglo-American woman of mixed-race lineage and a Russian doctor.

Alice May accompanies two recently orphaned teenage children to China to join their uncle. It was planned that he would then take them across the Pacific to their respective homes in the United States. The war, unexpected Russian defeats and the poor state of the uncle's health cause a change of plan. Alice and the children are forced to stay in the American Mission in Mukden. Recruited as a staff nurse and keen to learn the language, she proves very helpful when Russian
wounded arrive in increasing numbers from the front. At the same time she falls in love with the only Russian doctor employed at the Mission.

Run by a skeleton staff of Americans with Chinese help, the Mission hospital becomes the centre of her life. Political as well as medical problems interrupt the course of true love. The death of the children's uncle and their own diverging concerns add to Alice's problems, particularly when the Russian authorities suspect her of spying. Her enforced confinement in the Mission is climaxed by the breakdown of Russian morale on the eve of defeat in Manchuria.

The Japanese outflank the Russian defence system, the Mission is crowded, retreat is ordered and she ensures the evacuation of her wounded. Though tragedy ensues, she is recognised as the heroine of the moment, an American Alice who defies all the perils of defeat and deserves to be carried shoulder-high in triumph once the last train from Mukden eventually reaches safety.

The story has as its background a little known and yet crucial episode in early twentieth-century history. It sensitively explores a range of relationships, culminating in showing how a young woman can suddenly be so outraged by injustice that her boldness earns the respect of everyone round her. For this feat she becomes recognised as truly an American Alice who can work wonders.
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