Tea and Opium Nov 27, 2008
This was such a fun adventure. It begins with an unconventional Englishwoman who meets a missionary at a party. Since she is a "twenty-five year old spinster" with no prospects for marriage, she decides that God is calling her to be a missionary to China.
She is turned down, but follows Phineas Snowe and stows away on his ship, which takes over 5 months to get to China. Once she's discovered, he accepts care of her, and begins to teach her the language. I did find it hard to believe that she could become fluent in such a short time frame.
Anyway, he's not really a missionary, and she begins to rethink her decision. They fall in love, get married in a beautiful Chinese/British ceremony, and travel to meet his Chinese mother, who does not accept Isabella at first.
There are attacks by privateers onboard the ship, and Isabella saves them with her skill in fencing. The underlying story of how England and America traded opium for tea plays into the plot as well. It's an education into Chinese culture and was a very nice story that I couldn't put down.