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China Boat by Douglas

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It may only be on its first chapter, but this is a beautifully written tale and promises some fascinating reading. A definite period piece it shows itself to be well researched and clearly written. The reader can pick up the scent of a cigar, perhaps the clanging of a cable car, and, most clearly, the longing of a young heart.

China Boat seems to transcend mere story-writing; it reaches beyond that to become literature.

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​We are still in the early stages of this story, but I am enjoying what I have seen so far. Douglas is bringing together the pieces of his puzzle at a slow consistent pace which leaves me to believe we will have quite a lot of story to read by the time he is done. Well done, sir, a very enjoyable tale...score one for the history buffs on AD.

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What a delight.  I am a history buff, and a literature buff and I think this story is off to a smashing start.  I've managed to contain myself to only two chapters, so far; but it's barely 10:00 am and I'd be willing to bet I've read more by the end of the day.  I'm captivated.

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Well it's off and running with a great start on the rail.  The Dollar Line sails again and Pan American flies again.  It can do nothing but get better.

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I am still looking forward to the newest chapters of this story, Douglas has me hooked.

We are now in what I see as the middle stages of learning about these main characters and the minor ones surrounding them. This is the part where readers had best be aware of the minutiae of details presented since I foresee this information becoming important to coming events. I think we are in for a good long story here, and I love it. 

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I've read a few more than half the posted chapters at this point.  I usually don't start serialized stories till they're finished; I like to read at a pace that isn't possible when having to wait for new chapters to go up.  But, as Douglas is the author, I'll admit to a weakness of character.  I simply couldn't wait any longer.  

What a glorious experience this is!  Not only do we get a sterling adventure, we get it presented to us in the style of the times!  The writing is period writing, complete with capitalizations and punctuation that were in the vogue at that time!  What research this must have taken.  What patience!  Incredible stuff.

And that doesn't say anything about the story, which keeps building and building, slowly, temptingly.  I'm going to run out of chapters to read long before I want to.  This is what good writing looks like.

And, interestingly enough, even though this is written to suggest it was created in the late 1930s, it still has Douglas's fingerprints all over it, the identical style he effected in Gang of Five.  Is it any wonder I'm loving it so far?









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This is a story with such great appeal to anyone with a knowledge of history. Douglas has his cast of characters sailing off into  a world crisis and blissfully unaware of what lies ahead. The building tension will keep the readers coming back week after week, and that desire for more is exactly what author's strive to achieve. Kudos to Douglas.

I have no idea how many chapters it will take for Douglas to tell his story, and I am not sure I want to know. But from clues he has given me in our correspondence it seems China Boat is on its way to becoming an epic novel. It takes courage and tenacity to assemble the words and ideas for such a long story, and my level of patience at the keyboard doesn't encourage me to write something this grand. I may read a thousand or more pages in a book, I just don't want to write one that large.

I hope everyone reading the story has the patience to follow along. At least we are given an ever increasing glimpse into the private lives of the characters and those attributes are presented so nicely I don't feel voyeuristic at all...well, maybe a little. Looking forward to the next chapter.


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This tale just keeps on getting better. Rarely have I felt as truly enveloped by any story as I have been by China Boat. And even more rarely have I encountered a work that I so much hope doesn't end! This has the feel of a finely crafted masterpiece and has taken me to new places and experiences I've not had before. Right up to and including a 2-year-old flautist scoring for film! Absolutely brilliant.

Thank you, Douglas.

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For those folks reading the story, I just bumped into a website that's a great adjunct to the current place in the China Boat storyline. http://www.willysthomas.net/CathayHotel.htm#cathay  has some great period photographs of Shanghai including the streets, hotels, and throngs that help bring our hero's travels to life. Enjoy.

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Oh, Chris, thank you so much for this!


There happens to be yet another resource, for all things about Shanghai:




It has enormous amounts of information about Shanghai, including a searchable database of historic photos of the city.  I've spent many hours, there; and without it, I don't know if I would have even started 'China Boat'.  Highly recommended.


Also, for anyone who hasn't looked, recently, the story is now properly formatted for tablets and phones, in landscape and portrait orientations.  My apologies for the earlier limitations, and deepest thanks to Mike for putting up with all the necessary changes.

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I believe many of us are indebted to the various photo archives available on the internet for the images we can present in a story, I know I am. A book of early photographs available from the library cannot compare to the vast resources that are now available to us online.

Douglas' story has taken us on walks through the streets of old Shanghai and helped us see the architecture and people with his words. In many ways an old photograph does give birth to the words through the author's mind. A pity that many of these places no longer exist, but we can still write about them. 

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Jack sleeping in Rhys lap after working on a paper all night was one of the most sweetly romantic scenes I've ever encountered.

I did that more than once as an undergraduate, but never had a nap to doze on.

I've not been successful in my effort to stay two chapters behind.  So now I'm anxiously awaiting every chapter.

Great story

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I always love a movie when it hits a climax. Your breath is shallow, blood pressure is high, sweat is pouring out all over, and - most of all - you know it will all be better in just a few minutes.

But when the same thing happens in a written periodical spaced out over a series of days between scenes... AARRGGHH!! 

This is great stuff!

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I can only agree, this is great stuff.

Douglas has put his young characters in harm's way, with bullets flying and Chinese gangsters prowling the back alleys of a dark and forbidding slum. Gone is the image of teenage romance as his characters are dragged into an adult world of sinister proportions. It makes me smile.

I knew from the beginning that Douglas had embarked on an epic story of adventure and intrigue because the historical time frame dictated events that were about to enfold Shanghai. But even as that historical moment approaches, his characters are confronted with such well crafted intrigues  that I do not look forward to this story ending any time soon.   

Bravo, Douglas.

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All good things must end, but that's much harder to take when it's a simply MAGNIFICENT thing, as has been China Boat.

One of the most meticulously researched, lovingly assembled, and wonderfully presented stories I've ever read, anywhere, in any format. I thank dlgrantsf for gifting us with it, and Dude and Company for presenting it.

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7 hours ago, ChrisR said:

All good things must end, but that's much harder to take when it's a simply MAGNIFICENT thing, as has been China Boat.

One of the most meticulously researched, lovingly assembled, and wonderfully presented stories I've ever read, anywhere, in any format. I thank dlgrantsf for gifting us with it, and Dude and Company for presenting it.

Amen to that.   What a wonderful achievement.  And a special thanks to Doug for including the Coda, for without it we would have been bereft.

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The saga concludes, and what a wonderful cruise back in time Douglas gave us to ponder. 

If this had been in printed form I would have stayed up all night to read the book. I am just grateful that the author gave us an epilogue that fleshed out the lives of his characters. Readers do invest their time embracing the lives of the characters and this story would have been incomplete without that coda.

Well done, Douglas...and, of course, I must ask what you will display for us next. In reaching new heights with China Boat you have invested with the readers a desire for more, and for an author that will always be a good thing.

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This story has arrived in Dude's picks for October 2021. Somehow I missed it back in 2017, not sure how seeing Chris James' comments about it. If Chris was recommending something I would certainly enjoy it. Reading it now I can fully understand Chris' enthusiasm for it. It kept grabbed my attention from the start and kept me occupied for more hours that I really could afford, but hours of reading I found throughly enjoyable.

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