Jessica’s Choice is a novel about delusion and self-knowledge. A young woman, seeking to lose herself in pursuit of a mission, is forced to make a choice and through choosing know herself again.
Unlucky in love, Jessica Wong has returned to Hong Kong to convert the territory’s corporates to social responsibility. Yet the corporates prove resistant to her message. And Jessica becomes entangled with divorcee Errol and her mother’s friend Nathan. Enigmatic Mainland analyst Liu Rong seems to offer Jessica a way out.
But in the complex crowded Hong Kong of 2002, all is not what it seems. SARS and national security legislation under Article 23 cast their shadow. And despite help from Jessica’s down-to-earth assistant Mandy and mentor Shu-li, misunderstandings mount into crisis. Then Jessica must make her choice.
Extract from Jessica’s Choice
Jessica and her assistant Mandy have attended a briefing on China’s economic potential by Mainland economist Liu Rong. After the briefing, Jessica is introduced to the enigmatic analyst, and they talk about the electronics sector. Mandy is waiting, but Jessica wants to talk more.
“I was pleased at what you said about Hong Kong,” she said to Liu Rong finally. “So many people here are negative; it would encourage them to hear your message.”
“I am not sure that what I have to say would comfort them,” Liu Rong said wryly. He leant forward: “You Hong Kongers have nothing to be proud of any more…”
Startled, Jessica stepped back. What was this? But the eyes beneath those dark brows were twinkling. Their owner continued, “That is what I overheard a Mainland tourist say. In one sense he is right: Hong Kong really has declined since the handover. But there are institutional strengths here, even in the government which everyone criticises.”
“Thank you very much,” Jessica said, “that’s very helpful – I mean personally, as well as professionally.” She wanted to say more, to share her own mission with him, though time was already up. But in her eagerness, she knocked against a half-full coffee cup behind her, and the contents poured out over the table top. She started back in dismay, but there were splashes of the grey liquid on her handbag, and her pants had not escaped either. “Oh, I’m so sorry!” she exclaimed, opening her handbag for a tissue.
But gentle hands were already tilting Jessica’s bag upwards, wiping it with a paper towel. She was offered another towel for her trousers. Dabbing herself hastily, she thanked Liu Rong. He nodded, as if to dismiss her thanks. It came to Jessica suddenly that both of them were wearing black, like a fashion advertisement. She had a last glimpse of him smiling sadly as she joined Mandy at the door.
Book Extract Download
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PDF Extract — Jessica’s Choice Parts 1 to 3
More extracts can be found on our Hong Kong Short Stories page.