Besotted

Besotted is the ballad of Sasha and Liz, American expats in Shanghai. Both have moved abroad to escape—Sasha from her father’s disapproval, Liz from the predictability of her hometown.

When they move in together, Sasha falls in love, but the sudden attention from a charming architect threatens the relationship. Meanwhile, Liz struggles to be both a good girlfriend to Sasha and a good friend to Sam, her Shanghainese language partner who needs more from her than grammar lessons.

For fans of Prague by Arthur Phillips and The Expatriates by Janice Y.K. Lee, Besotted is an expat novel that explores what it means to love someone while running away from yourself.

The true star of this piece is the expat community that Duclos has perfectly drawn. Any expat who has spent an amount of time in Asia will find at least something in there that speaks to their experience. The world building is excellent.

Kirkus Reviews

Besotted is an absorbing, nuanced debut about belonging, desire, and the frustrations that surface in an atmosphere of isolation. Set mostly in tiny apartments, ridiculous happy hour bars, and Starbucks—all Western attempts to recreate home—Duclos’s expatriate Shanghai is wholly unique and beautifully composed. Alive with keenly observed, vibrant detail, Besotted is a love story that pulses with heat and light, glitter and grit.

Kimberly King Parsons, author of Black Light

In Besotted, Melissa Duclos debuts a beautiful, bruising love story that fully inhabits the world’s disquieting spaces in between. Her tender, vital community of Shanghai expats are—sometimes in the space of a single, lyric sentence—both impulsive and calculating, passionate and standoffish, at home and as far from home as they can possibly be. The result is an exuberant, sexy tango of a novel, at turns playful and wrenching, that unpacks the ways desire and reality are both closer together and farther apart than they ever initially seem. 

Tracy Manaster, author of The Done Thing

An exquisite tale of desire, longing, love, and reinvention. Duclos’s brilliance lies in her painstaking renderings of heartaches large and small, and the particular pain of struggling to find connection on the other side of the world. Besotted is a head rush—a sexier smarter, more genuine coming-of-age story you will not find.

Mo Daviau, author of Every Anxious Wave

The clueless characters of Besotted try to hide their vulnerabilities under layers of coolness, clever remarks, and disaffection. They are very much like the people we know; they are us at the end of the day, when we remove our make-up and can’t any longer disguise how much love and the lack of it can hurt.

Jaime Manrique, author of Cervantes Street

In Besotted Melissa Duclos chronicles—with sharp intelligence and an insider’s knowledge—Shanghai’s elite expat community, to devastating, transfixing effect .

Joanna Rakoff, author of My Salinger Year