Against the backdrop of The Seattle World Fairs in 1909 and 1962, Ford depicts the life of Ernest Young. Ernest is sent over from China alone as a young child and after bouncing around from orphanages and boarding schools in Seattle, he is sold to the highest bidder at The 1909 World’s Fair auction who happens to be the owner of a brothel. There he works his way up to chauffeur and falls in love with two young girls, Maisie and Fahn. Fifty-three years later is married with two grown-up daughters. One is a reporter who wants to write a story about her father’s life, which means uncovering secrets that Ernest would not like known.
If you were a fan of Ford’s novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, you will find this novel enjoyable. Ford tells a nice story based on historical events. His characters are interesting, but not terribly complex.