Penang, 1939: Sixteen-year-old Philip Hutton is a loner. Half English, half Chinese and feeling neither, he discovers a sense of belonging in an unexpected friendship with Hayato Endo, a Japanese diplomat.
But when the Japanese invade Malaya, threatening to destroy Philip's family and everything he loves, he realises that his trusted friend has been harbouring a devastating secret.
©2007 Tan Twan Eng (P)2013 W F Howes Ltd
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"The perfect novel"
A wonderful setting for a very compelling story about friendship and responsibility. I'm not a fan of war novels but this book won me over. The prose is superb, and both narrators are excellent. Certainly an audio book I will listen to again.
Such a poignant story beautifully read, I felt transported to another era, so descriptive of character, place and emotion - I don't think reading it would have made it so alive. Highly commended
"Beautiful novel about a dark part in history"
I absolutely loved this book and it got me hooked after the first 10 minutes. The story itself is in parts cruel and very sad but described in beautiful prose with gentle words. I never read anything about the Japanese occupation of Malaysia during the second World War. The idea to describe it as an account of his life an elderly half-English half-Chinese Gentlemen gives to a friend makes it easier to listen to all the cruelties. I also liked the fact that it was recorded by two different narrators. For me it was the best book I listened to this year and I would fully recommend it.
"Beautiful story - an unexpected gift"
The narrators were good and really brought the story alive. The voices seemed to fit their characters, both in gentleness and strength. I would definitely recommend the audio edition of the book.
The story was placed in a setting I knew very little about. The different elements of the Chinese, Japanese and British culture, way of thinking, beliefs and behaviour were fascinating. The story was deep and moving and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to it.
"A fine book"
This is a well written story about dark times in world history. While providing insights into the history of the Japanese occupation of Malaysia, it shows what can influence people, faced with disappointments, threats and dangers. It explores how reactions to such things can be driven by issues like friendship, love, duty and loyalties. It is gripping and is likely to provoke emotional reactions in the reader/listener.
The narration is, for the most part, very good, although some of the accents employed leave a little to be desired.
"Wow...what an epic tale ...and I cried"
The pace of the storytelling is great...not too many descriptive chunks. Even though you can work out what is going to happen its still a shock when it finally does...perhaps like the invasion itself. Its all in the suspense?
Obviously Garden in the Mists by the same author. I liked that better by the way but still am happy I have listened to both.
Two voices for the old and young philip was very good...the japanese accent was pretty awfull though. You jsut have to suspend youir belief as IU am sure endo san would not have sounded like a boxer from the east end....
Every time we lost one of the major characters....heartbreaking.
Read it....its great.
"Oh dear just so boring"
A different plot
Stop bashing on about all the Japanese marshall arts moves etc
Did not finish it...life too short to persevere
Will be asking for refund if I can work how
I am listening to it again! So interesting to re read/listen when you have insight into the characters and story. And it won't be the last time, I think you can gain so much from a subsequent reading.
The protagonist. Honesty; acknowledged loneliness. Interesting character development through impossible choices.
Really excellent narration, genuine love for the story and empathy for the characters came through.
An incredibly tragic time in history.
Excellent book for a group to discuss.
"A moving and intriguing historical adventure story"
This is a really interesting story, well told, though some of the accents are a little embarrassing!
I liked the way it combined an exciting historical adventure with a very emotive exploration of the relationships between different groups in Malaya during and in the run up to WW2.
"Interesting little yarn"
No. Heard it, enough. Good story but no reason to listen again.
Nothing. A good all round tale, bit of history, bit of emotional conflict, bit too much martial arts. Fine.
They were convincing and unobtrusive.
To be honest, although there was a lot of personal emotional conflict I really did not feel for any of the characters. I did not find them particularly sympathetic, stuff happens, decisions are made. Interesting but I wouldn't go out for a drink with any of them. Rather too much naval contemplation for me. Live with it.
Good tale with plenty to think about vis the morality of the situations. No doubt many will find the obsession with the martial arts fascinating, I found it . . . .obsessive. Interesting in smaller doses but . . . .quite obsessive and detracting from the story. All in all a good listen skilfully written.
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