A violin prodigy. A Guinness-World-Record Holder. A suspected spy. A grandmother ...
In her mid-twenties, rudderless and unsure, Michelle Balogh moved into her great-grandmother Shan-Yi’s Sydney apartment just after her passing. Shan-Yi had been part of Michelle’s family since long before she was born and staying at the glamorous art deco apartment was meant to help Michelle back on her feet.
Moving in meant far more than building a new life. In the apartment, Michelle found an extraordinary trove of letters, diaries and papers that told of her great-grandmother’s unique life – one of adventure and heartache, transatlantic travel and suspected espionage.
Born in China, Shan-Yi moved to America with her family aged four but ran away to Hong Kong at sixteen. So began her extraordinary globe-trotting twenties before she settled in Sydney with her German husband Karl at the start of World War II. The glamorous couple was immediately under suspicion from local Sydney-siders, but it wasn’t until Karl was interned that Shan-Yi found out who he really was.
Meticulously researched and told with great heart, this is the story of Shan-Yi’s unparalleled life and the inspiration it afforded Michelle – exactly when she needed it the most.
‘Balogh pieces together Shan-Yi’s story and translates it into a compelling narrative that reads like fiction, drawing the reader into her unique life. Balogh’s fresh voice and dedication to this personal project results in a touching tribute that explores the complexities of identity through the lens of two different times and cultures.’ —Bookseller + Publisher