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
Book one was entertaining and showed promise but book two, which takes place during the Japanese occupation was terrible. I simply could not identify or feel for the hero, Philip Hutton, who came across as a fool and an idiot with the most stupid and corny dialogue. No Mr Tan Twan Eng, I don't think your character Philip, experienced Satori. I couldn't finish it and removed it from my device.
I would reject the book.
Interesting exploration of the time period in Penang, the mix of cultures that shaped the individuals. Highly recommended along with The Garden of evening Mists" by the same author.
A family dynasty, damaged by war, intertwined with characters that share complex destinies decreed by karma. Well told historical novel that evokes the times,from Chinese dynasties to jungle Malaya. Beautiful.
"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.
"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.
"picks you up and refuses to put you down"
Loved it. Lived it. A totally captivating account of one man's steadfast adherence to principles in the face of heartbreaking disintegration of everything that meant anything to him
"Compelling and haunting"
I read this book a while ago and loved it so much that i also had to have it in audio. Even more evocotive of time and place than the book, after listening i felt it was a place i had visited and come to love. Sometimes it was almost like listening to poetry. Having two different people read the parts of young Phillip and old Phillip worked really well i think abd it's not something I'm usually very fond of. A beautiful story of family, love, duty, discipline, war, memory and friendship. I cannot recommend this story highly enough
"Truly great writing"
This book is not a book I would normally choose. No matter what your favourite genre, you should at least try this. The writing style makes for ease of understanding of an often difficult time and culture. Although, I initially found the time difference between the story being told and the story itself unfolding a little distracting, the brilliant reading soon made this irrelevant. You will find the story and events depicted fascinating but you will soon begin to appreciate and hopefully start to understand the various philosophies depicted in the book and how they collide. It was along time before I was persuaded to try this book. I beg you not to wait any longer.
"An absorbing story, very well told."
Having read the book a few years ago, this audio version fully lived up to my expectations. I thought the narration was excellent, and the two actors contrasted well and made the different time settings very clear.
I really enjoyed this refreshingly different story, about the Japanese occupation of Malaya, a subject I previously knew nothing about.
I liked the moving and insightful glimpse of about life in Malaya. It was interesting to hear about a different aspect of the war under Japanese influence and alos to hear about the perspective of a man torn between family loyaltyand friendship.
Beautifully written, almost peotical in style.
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