Monday, October 6, 2008

Review: Lost in Translation


Lost in Translation* is an imaginative and satisfying novel by Nicole Mones. The protagonist, Alice Mannegan, is an American living in China, working as an interpreter, and striving to be accepted in the culture she has adopted. When hired by a second-rate American anthropologist, the two hook up with his Chinese counterparts and head to Inner Mongolia looking for the lost remains of Peking Man.

Mones does a great job of weaving the histories of the characters into the main story. While the team follows the trail of homo erectus, Alice struggles to understand her relationship with her powerful father; her boss worries about losing his son’s affection and respect; and their Chinese cohort searches on the sly for the wife he cannot abandon although she disappeared to a work camp during the Cultural Revolution.

Mones uses the historic relationship between French priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and his platonic lover, Lucile Swan, to bring thematic unity to the varied story lines. Equal parts historical mystery, foreign adventure, and cross-cultural romance, Lost in Translation has a lot to offer.

* Which has nothing to do with the Scarlett Johansson movie with the same title.


(Please leave a comment with a link if you would like your review posted here.)


  1. "Which has nothing to do with the Scarlett Johansson movie with the same title."

    Thank you! I thought I had completely missed what that movie was about...! :)

  2. Yes! The book came first, but since the movie was so popular, it is confusing.

  3. I absolutely loved this book... and yes - it is not at all similar to the movie of the same title. I need to go back and re-read it!

    I saw the little thumbnail link to it at the bottom of your Mailbox Monday post - so glad I did!

  4. Wendi -- Glad you found the post. Have you read her other books? I really liked The Last Chinese Chef. The third one is on my TBR shelf and I hope to get to it soon.


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