Top critical review
15 people found this helpful
Emotionally draining novel about wartime collaboration
on 27 June 2013
Set in Penang, Malaya, this novel spans decades, from the dying days of the Chinese imperial court, to the collapse of the British empire to Japanese hostilities in World War Two.
This novel is emotionally draining. Tan Twan Eng is a very talented writer, he made me sympathise with so many of the characters, but especially Philip, who's life is so tragic that I felt worn out by the time I'd finished reading. That's not to say it's not a good book- it's just very sad. Wartime collaboration is a contentious issue.
The scope of the novel is huge. I really enjoyed when the narrative broadened out, and included glimmers of Buddhist religion, Japanese philosophy and Chinese history and folk-tales.
full review here: [...]