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4.4 out of 5 stars15
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 29 April 2013
For a short period in 1956 and 1957, Anthony Burgess and my father were friends and regular drinking partners, when Burgess was a lecturer in a Malayan teacher training college. I know these novels well, of course, and bought the trilogy as a gift. It is very much a period piece now, describing a world that is long, long gone. However, Burgess captures brilliantly - and extremely acurately - the atmosphere of the late colonial community - the hot, steamy climate, (meteoroligically, that is), the odd balls and their soured or failing ambitions, the whole strange existence with its almost surreal elements of unreality. I lived through it as a teenager and can vouch for that personally. The first two books are, maybe, more skilfully written than the final volume, partly because of things that were going on in Burgess's own life. But the trilogy is a fine nostalgia trip for anyone who knew the setting, and an entertaining adventure in reading for anyone who doesn't.
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on 19 November 2003
Burgess had his own personal connections to Malaysia having worked there and being something of an outsider himself. These three inter-connected, but independent stories tell of the end of empire. Burgess manages to be sympathetic to his white characters whilst also explaining the hopes and desires of the local people. It is of particular interest to anyone who knows modern Malaysia and Singapore. This book deserves far more acclaim as it documents the end of the British empire in the region without any patronising voice of reason. In addition to being a wonderful historical document, it is a fantastic read and the wonderful characters will keep you turning pages late into the night.
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on 20 April 2013
Mildly funny in some places, wildly overdrawn when dealing with many aspects of life among the expatriate community during the later days of the emergency, some penetrating insisights about social interaction at this time in Malaya. Pretty unfair to the Malayans who took over from the mainly expatriate administrators and technicians. These comments are made from my experience as an overseas civil servant in Malaya for two years before Merdeka and two years after
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on 1 November 2014
This is such an idiosyncratic book, and Burgess has always been an acquired taste; brilliantly written in an English that AB has made his own, (you will need a dictionary nearby, as always with his novels) it brims with the pathos that is the essential ingredient needed to turn the merely good into great. Having been there and ( almost) of the age, I love this book, probably irrationality- this is my second purchase: my previous copy had fallen to bits through use - and urge all who long for the bygone days of Billy Maugham et al, and possess the requisite sense of melancholy, to give it a go. You will come away refreshingly depressed!
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on 17 August 2014
You need patience for this, and it helps if you remember the times it describes. That said, Burgess is one of the few writers who can capture the chacters and mood of an era and the locations he portrays.
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on 13 August 2015
I had the individual books by Anthony Burgess, and it is very helpful to have them as a single unit. The books are informative and well-worth reading for anyone with any interest in the Malayan Emergency and the events surrounding it.
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on 25 May 2015
I had read all these as they originally came out. It is wonderful to read them again. They really do reflect the British idea of Malaysia at that time. Beautifully written, full of insight and humour. Highly reccommended.
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on 3 March 2015
Sometimes a writers early work IS his Best...as in this case...Classic tales from the late Colonial period...amusing stuff and conveying the mood of those times and the 'Types' involved...
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on 11 December 2014
A charming other side to the Burgess responsible for A Clockwork Orange. A light humour, a wonderful understanding of the region and beautifully pieced together.
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on 29 September 2015
A trip down memory lane for old Malaya hands. A bit outdated by current standards
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