In 1925 the international treasure-hunting scene is a manís world, and no one understands this better than Irene Blum, who is passed over for a coveted museum curatorship because she is a woman. Seeking to restore her reputation, she sets off from Seattle in search of a temple believed to house the lost history of Cambodiaís ancient Khmer civilization. But her quest to make the greatest archaeological discovery of the century soon becomes a quest for her familyís secrets. Embracing the colorful and corrupt world of colonial Asia in the early 1900s, The Map of Lost Memories takes readers into a forgotten era where nothing is as it seems. As Irene travels through Shanghai's lawless back streets and Saigonís opium-filled lanes, she joins forces with a Communist temple robber and an intriguing nightclub owner with a complicated past. What they bring to light deep within the humidity-soaked Cambodian jungle does more than change history. It ultimately solves the mysteries of their own lives.
Khmer ruin in the 1920s
On the way to publication ...
While it was a work in progress, The Map of Lost Memories (originally titled In Yellow Babylon), made it into the Top 100 of Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Competition. Part of getting that far meant receiving a review from Publishers Weekly. The following is from that review:
"Atmospheric, lyrical, and written in almost painfully beautiful prose, this historical novel sings like a coloratura soprano performing in a gorgeous opera ... Irene, the protagonist, loses her mother as a young girl. She tries to fill the yawning void that loss created with a dream of adventure. The grail she seeks at the encouragement of her mentor, a wealthy temple-looter named Mr. Simms, is a set of long-lost Cambodian scrolls that explain the mysterious fall of the Khmer and their once-glorious kingdom at Angkor Wat. There is symbolic significance here---Irene's childhood "kingdom" was ripped apart by the loss of her mother---but she is not maudlin or sentimental, nor is this novel. As a twenty-nine-year old living in revolutionary Shanghai, Irene plans her Cambodian quest in an atmosphere of contrasts---languor and violence, wealth and poverty, virtue and dissipation. Midway through the novel, she finally sets out. Accompanying her are Simone, a Sanskrit-reading femme fatale; Louis, Simone's once-and-future fiance; and Marc, a bar proprietor and love interest ... the author's evocation of the setting and the foreign misfits that inhabited it is nothing short of magical; the prose, extraordinary."