By Nora Vasconcelos
There’s something magical when an author manages to transport our minds to another place in the world, transforming the readers into active spectators. This is the case of Philip Chatting, a well-travelled British author, who in his first novel Harbour Views presents with great detail what it is like to live in Hong Kong when a powerful businessman impacts the behavior of every person around him.
Recently released by Book Guild Publishing, this novel, sprinkled with some touches of dark comedy, presents in all their humane aspects the moods, thoughts, feelings, actions and reactions of the main characters, whose lives spin around Jakob Odergaard, a Norwegian expatriate who built thorughout the years a business empire in Hong Kong.
As powerful as he is, he cares little for anybody else but himself, and this might have turned him into a despicable character, but the precise knowledge with which the author developed his main character, made of Odergaard a unique persona whom people get inevitably drawn to, wandering, from the first to the last page, what is going to happen next?, and in how many ways his volatile reactions will impact, one more time, those living under his shadow.
At the same time, it’s hard not to feel some sort of compassion towards the magnate whose existence, full of money and power, somehow never seems to be a happy one.
On the other hand, most people under his tough hand, have lived painful lives, full of disappointment and dreams of a better life, but in the end, they manage to get some sort of comfort within their own ordinary realities.
And while all this drama untangles, the magnificent essence of the city with its sounds and smells, as well as its always changing harbour views, testifies the ups and downs that constantly accompany all the characters created for this book.
* Photo courtesy of Book Guild Publishing