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Publisher's Summary

A classic novel by a Booker Prize-winning author. 

Singapore just before the Japanese invasion in the Second World War: the Blackett family's prosperous world of tennis parties, cocktails and deferential servants seems unchanging. But it is poised on the edge of the abyss. This is the eve of the fall of Singapore and, as we know, of much else besides. 

Not only are the Blacketts caught up in the events - their friends, enemies and many individuals are, too. Singapore at this historical watershed has never been so faithfully and passionately re-created. 

©2010 J. G. Farrell (P)2018 Orion Publishing Group

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  • Purplelotus
  • 10-12-18

Superb

This novel tells the stories of the disparate families and individuals caught up in the final days of Singapore before the Japanese invasion. The good are represented by the idealistic Matthew appaulled by how his inheritance has been amassed which gives Farrell an opportunity to explore colonial exploitation. Also the Major, another colonial washed up in Singapore but with a kind heart. The bad by Walter Blackett determined to shore up his company's interest with the help of his cunning daughter Joan. The ugly by the moustached, incompetent army chiefs. As Singapore collapses around them the rats flee the sinking ship but comeuppances are not forthcoming as the innocents and those without influence and money are left to their fate. As usual they suffer as they have always done while the privileged flee to safety.

But this is not a doom laden listen. Farrell is witty and dry as we watch everyone scrabble around trying to make sense of the collapse of their worlds be they at the top or the bottom of the heap. There are laugh out loud moments but even such dramatic changes in their lives gives none but a few any real cause to reflect on the collapse except the ever introspective Matthew.