Your audiobook is waiting…

The Gift of Rain

Length: 16 hrs and 56 mins
Categories: Fiction, Historical
4.5 out of 5 stars (146 ratings)

$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

OR
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

For the first time, available as an audiobook.

The recipient of extraordinary acclaim from critics and the book-selling community, Tan Twan Eng's debut novel casts a powerful spell and has garnered comparisons to celebrated wartime storytellers Somerset Maugham and Graham Greene. Set during the tumult of World War II, on the lush Malayan island of Penang, The Gift of Rain tells a riveting and poignant tale about a young man caught in the tangle of wartime loyalties and deceits.  

In 1939, 16-year-old Philip Hutton - the half-Chinese, half-English youngest child of the head of one of Penang's great trading families - feels alienated from both the Chinese and British communities. He at last discovers a sense of belonging in his unexpected friendship with Hayato Endo, a Japanese diplomat. Philip proudly shows his new friend around his adored island, and in return Endo teaches him about Japanese language and culture and trains him in the art and discipline of aikido. But such knowledge comes at a terrible price. When the Japanese savagely invade Malaya, Philip realizes that his mentor and sensei - to whom he owes absolute loyalty - is a Japanese spy. Young Philip has been an unwitting traitor, and must now work in secret to save as many lives as possible, even as his own family is brought to its knees.

©2009 Tan Twan Eng (P)2018 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"This remarkable debut saga of intrigue and akido flashes back to a darkly opulent WWII-era Malaya. Phillip Hutton, 72, lives in serene Penang comfort, occasionally training students as an akido master teacher of teachers. A visit from Michiko Murakami sends him spiraling back into his past, where he grows up the alienated half-British, half-Chinese son of a wealthy Penang trader in the years before WWII. When Hutton's father and three siblings leave him to run the family company one summer, he befriends a mysterious Japanese neighbor named Mr. Endo. Japan is on the opposing side of the coming war, but Endo paradoxically opts to train Hutton in the ways of aikido, in what both men come to see as the fulfillment of a prophecy that has haunted them for several lifetimes. When the Japanese army invades Malaya, chaos reigns, and Phillip makes a secret, very profitable deal. He cannot, however, offset the costs of his friendship with Endo. Eng's characters are as deep and troubled as the time in which the story takes place, and he draws on a rich palette to create a sprawling portrait of a lesser explored corner of the war. Hutton's first-person narration is measured, believable and enthralling." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    107
  • 4 Stars
    21
  • 3 Stars
    14
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    1

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    109
  • 4 Stars
    22
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    2

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    96
  • 4 Stars
    26
  • 3 Stars
    10
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    2

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Could not stop listening

Wonderful reading and lyrical beautiful worfs. Many life lessons within. I learned a lot about WWII in Malaysia and the demographics of that part of the world :very diverse yet torn apart by the war.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Emotive and complex.

Gorgeous and engrossing story. The audible performances are the best I have heard. Gordon Griffin and Luke Thompson are stunningly sensitive to accents, diction, and tone. The degree of difficulty of the performance is a 9 out of 10.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Nancy E
  • Stamford, CT USA
  • 09-16-18

Great to listen to this wonderful story

Two narrators--one for the young protagonist, and the other when he gets older--add a dimension to this fascinating story that takes place during the Japanese occupation of Malaya during WWII. I have read so much about Europe during WWII, but not about Asia, so this novel started rounding that out.

What I most liked about this book was its half-Chinese and half-English protagonist, faced with difficult choices, sometimes chose the worse path. So he was human. Made me want visit Penang and made me even more curious about Japanese culture.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Susan
  • New York City
  • 01-25-19

It had no effect on me

I love depressing books, and this book certainly didn't disappoint in that regard. But I had absolutely no feeling for the characters. I just wanted the book to e-n-d. The way it ended was predictable and unsatisfying. The author's description of fighting felt forced, like a Kung Fu movie. And if I never read another simile again it will be too soon.

6 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting subject matter

First and foremost , a collaborator during a time of war is a traitor . The authors attempt a to romanticize those actions ,and even imbue them with heroics , are lost.
The descriptions of the geography and the ethnology are very good. I grew up in s e a and have been to Malaysia , including Penang . His knowledge of the area was very appealing.
The characters were well developed. The internalized racial conflict of the main character was especially well thought out and came across starkly .
My only regret ? is that I kept waiting for the two main characters to finally succumb to their love for each other physically .

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • C. SAIDI
  • Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • 11-09-19

Historical Fiction at its best

My own grandmother had a similar story as a child in Singapore during the Japanese invasion. Was truly a blessing to listen to this story and get an idea of the strife and horrors that occurred during this war. The performances were so well performed that each character was easily distinguished immediately. True artists.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • T
  • 10-27-19

Beautiful and thoughtful writing

This work is a beautiful story that threads its way in between thorny and eternal , profound spiritual questions. It contains violence, none of it gratuitous or excessive.

One of the two narrators is excellent. The other is to phlegmy, and not always fully differentiated between characters.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Extraordinary and Beautifully Tragic

From time to time, when listening to an Audible book, I don't mind missing a few sentences here and there. While listening to The Gift of Rain, I had to hear every word. Not only were the narrators superb, the content was, as the cover says, "robustly absorbing...achingly poignant."
My rating is 5 stars in every category.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Phyllis
  • Glendale, WI, United States
  • 10-21-19

Language a Bit Too Baroque

The story was engaging at the beginning but further into to book, it seemed bogged down in self-involved ruminating. The protagonist’s relationship with his Sensai was a bit over-the-top. His loyalty to his master Endo-San is not the least bit admirable. The Akido master was inexcusably cruel and all the chest-thumping about fate and past lives does not make it acceptable.

The story would have been much better with tighter editing and a bit less flowery prose.

The narrators were simply spectacular.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Steve
  • TREVOR, WI
  • 12-09-18

A wonderful experience

This truly was one of the best books I have ever had. The author's words were so precise I could hear feel and see everything he described. The use of two narrators, one old and one young, also made the book even more enjoyable.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful