In the Shadow of the Banyan, by Vaddey Ratner, is the "sleeper" novel-memoir of the summer. This semi-autobiographical novel about the life of one child and her family, in Cambodia, during the regime of Pol Pot, is a must read that the listener will never forget! It is an exquisitely written and powerful account of life and death in the killing fields of Cambodia and the power of a father's love through his self-sacrifice in order that his family, most importantly his children, could endure and survive, both physically and spiritually, through the four years of mass genocide and torture of the Cambodian people under the regime of Pol Pot.
Vaddey Ratner's own story, written as a novel, is both extremely powerful and gut wrenching. The story spans the four years of the Pol Pot regime. Written in the first person voice of the young Raami, and narrated over the four years of her life, begins when Raami is 5, living a life of privilege as a princess in Phnom Penh, and then quickly moves through the 4 years of extreme deprivation, starvation and death of the Cambodian people in the killing fields of Cambodia, under the Pol Pot regime.
The author's story is one that you will never forget. It is among one the most beautifully written contemporary novels that I have listened to on Audible in the over 10 years that I have been a member! It is a novel that must not be missed, both for the story and an understanding, in the lyrical and poetic writing of the author, of the suffering of the Cambodian people during the holocaust that they endured. Like her father, who was famous poet in Cambodia, the author, Vaddey Ratner, has a true gift for writing that lives, in her, through her father.
In the Shadow of the Banyan is written tribute to the 1 to 2 million Cambodians who died in the killing fields during the regime of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, and to her father, who gave her, through his own sacrifice, the gift to endure the unendurable and to hope when there was none!
I have attempted to listen to this book but have to stop each time. I've restarted and stopped at least 4 times. The issue with this book is not the story but the narration. The narrator speaks so quickly and since the dialogue, in the book, is written in "Olde English" it is extraordinary difficult to understand the narration.I believe that this is a book that has to be read. Also, the book is historically very inaccurate although it is a novel.
Finally, The Duke's Children, the last book in the Trollope's Palliser series, is on Audible! Unfortunately, Audible still does not have The Prime Minister, which precedes this final book in the Palliser series. Although it is not necessary to have read (or listened to The Prime Minister) to enjoy this story, for true fans of Trollope and the Palliser series, it would have been helped. Although I thoroughly enjoyed Trollope's story about the Duke of Omnium and his three children, "The Duke's Children" is not one of Trollope's "great" novels in the Palliser series, especially the ending, which I found flat and unsatisfying. However, what is so deliciously interesting about this novel, and makes it a must read, is Trollope's portrayal of the utter hypocrisy of the aristocracy in late Victorian England, through the character portrayal of the Duke of Omnium, the titular head of the Liberal Party. This juxtaposition and tension between the Duke's Liberal politics and conservative personal beliefs in the plot via the Duke's aspiration's for, and then treatment of his children, especially his daughter, Mary, are timeless themes and are as true today as it was over 100 years ago when Trollope wrote this novel!
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