Named a Must-Read Book by the NY Post
An aristocratic Russian doctor races to contain a deadly plague in an outpost city in Manchuria - before it spreads to the rest of the world.
1910: people are mysteriously dying at an alarming rate in the Russian-ruled city of Kharbin, a major railway outpost in Northern China. Strangely, some of the dead bodies vanish before they can be identified.
During a dangerously cold winter in a city gripped by fear, the Baron, a wealthy Russian aristocrat and the city's medical commissioner, is determined to stop this mysterious plague. Battling local customs, an occupying army, and a brutal epidemic with no name, the Baron is torn between duty and compassion, between Western medical science and respect for Chinese tradition. His allies include a French doctor, a black marketeer, and a charismatic Chinese dwarf. His greatest refuge is the intimacy he shares with his young Chinese wife - but she has secrets of her own.
Based on a true story that has been lost to history, set during the last days of imperial Russia, THE WINTER STATION is a richly textured and brilliant novel about mortality, fear and love.
Customer ReviewsSee All
A story that transcends time
Full disclosure: the author is a close friend of mine from college. That aside - this book aims high. Shields tells the compelling true story of a Russian doctor during the pneumonic plague in Manchuria in the early 20th century. The author was willing to take herself into the hellish circumstances of massive loss of life, secrets held by government officials, rivalries and ego battles between doctors to show us the example of one man who was a beacon of light in a worst case scenario - not unlike the civil breakdown and fear that we see in our world today. The story is beautifully told, and we learn how the Baron (the doctor) uses the art of calligraphy, his faith and the tea ceremony to stay grounded in the principles of ritual, compassion and empathy for one another. While this is a difficult book to read (nightmarish descriptions of fatalities, frozen bodies), in the end, it is a redemptive story of one man who is a beacon of light in a very very dark world. There is much to admire in the Baron’s story, and in Shields’ inspired writing.