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Publisher's Summary

In the tradition of celebrated wartime storytellers Somerset Maugham and Graham Greene, Tan Twan Eng's debut novel casts a powerful spell.

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 listeners say about The Gift of Rain

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  • Overall
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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.

7 people found this helpful

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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 people found this helpful

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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 people found this helpful

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The best book I’ve listened to this year

I was completely engrossed in this book. I wept and I laughed together with the characters. The story is heartbreaking, warm and historically interesting. It is very well written, and the narrator also did a fantastic job; the different voices worked perfectly. I was deeply moved and I miss the characters. I just want to read more! I highly recommend the book, just buy it! You will not regret it.

1 person found this helpful

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Wonderful

This is one of the best books I have listened to. The descriptions are so full that I felt like I could see, hear, feel, smell and taste what was being written about. I highly recommend.

1 person found this helpful

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Quite enjoyed this one...

This had hints of Bryce Courtenay in it. I enjoyed this WW2 story of friendship and betrayal.

Good readings by the narrators.

1 person found this helpful

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Beautiful writing

This book is beautifully written, but the subject matter is often hard to listen to. I feel like I have elevated myself by listening.

1 person found this helpful

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A beautiful story of love, life and honor

A great book and the readers' performances were excellent. A beautiful story of love and deep connection between men unlike any I have ever heard. As an American, I also appreciated the perspective of WWII from they eyes of the Chinese. So much to say about how this book was written and the depths of beauty within it.

1 person found this helpful

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Breathtaking

Easily one of the most beautiful, fascinating and touching books I've ever heard. The narration is superb, and the story... over years and lives, through meandering side stories, but all coming together... I don't really have words to describe it. I will treasure this one for years to come.

1 person found this helpful

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A good story, a great page turner.

I really enjoyed listening to this book. The reason I gave only four stars to it is that I found the flash backs, the connections to past lives unconvincing. The other relationships, between friends, with the teacher and with others I found interesting and real.

1 person found this helpful