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304 Reviews
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95 of 98 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great and profound read on the Booker List
One of the most readable literary titles on this year's unpredictably eclectic Man Booker Longlist. Highly enjoyable and intricate but without being preachy and tedious. The story of a mixed-blood English young man in pre-war Malaya who befriends a Japanese diplomat.

The writing sometimes rises to poetry without being incomprehensible, and the author never...
Published on 3 Sep 2007 by S. Charter

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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Emotionally draining novel about wartime collaboration
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...
Published 9 months ago by Miss A C R Finch


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5.0 out of 5 stars Worth the Effort, 25 Aug 2012
By 
Roger Miller (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Gift of Rain (Paperback)
Ok at 500 pages this book requires stamina but the easy writing style and compelling narrative made it worthwhile.It is a WWW2 story but the issues of loyalty,self discipline, identity and morality are timeless and thought provoking.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Marvellously imaginative and mysterious., 17 May 2012
This review is from: The Gift of Rain (Paperback)
I have just read this book for the second time and been overwhelmed again by its sheer beauty and imaginative storyline. As a student of comparative religion, and of Zen Buddhism in particular, I found myself sharing much of the book's spiritual insights. The author's own spiritual beliefs are no less important than the plot itself.

Not only has Tan Twan Eng written a powerful and gripping story, but he has provided the reader with a wonderful study of the culture in which the novel is set. His images of the sea, of sunny and rain drenched beaches, of mysterious and secret temples are extraordinarily evocative. Its as if the reader is there sharing the scenes. A gentle humour pervades the narrative interspersed with intervals of great sadness and tragedy. Much research and effort much have gone into its creation. There are several accounts of the martial arts that are characteristic of Japanese culture and their spiritual meaning.

I was moved to tears several times, especially towards the closing chapters of the book. This is a magnificent novel, unusual and almost autobiographical in its composition. I love the way in which the events described move to a climax. To find out what happens - read the book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Publisher; better editing please, 11 May 2012
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This review is from: The Gift of Rain (Kindle Edition)
I concur with all the positive things said about this novel, but have one small but I believe relevant criticism. The text needs a deal more careful editing. Many words have unnecessary and annoying hyphens inserted into them, and certain lines of dialogue seem broken up in an illogical way.

Otherwise I was enchanted by this writer's command of expression.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic debut novel, 6 May 2012
This review is from: The Gift of Rain (Kindle Edition)
I won't repeat what others have already said except to add to their praise. I really enjoyed this book and would go so far as to say it has entered the realms of my favourite books.Would thoroughly recommend.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, the Best Book I've Read for a Long Time., 9 April 2012
By 
N. Cawsey (Bristol, England.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Gift of Rain (Kindle Edition)
I am really sad that I've finished this as I enjoyed it so much, although the ending was perfect and I couldn't have wished for more. It was beautifully written; I had never heard of the book or the author (my ignorance) but was referred to it by a friend who told me it was a 'must read'. She was absolutely right - it is a cracker!! Should become a modern classic, required reading in schools - both for the history and the skillful, poetic writing. It is never boring,a constant page turner and a very strong story. I can't praise it enough!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous reading, 15 Feb 2012
This review is from: The Gift of Rain (Kindle Edition)
I'm normally picky on what types of books I choose to read and I couldn't put this book down. I read it in three days while on holiday last year. It was really fabulous and very moving. Luckily I managed to finish the book in my hotel room, otherwise I think I would have drawn attention to myself blubbering on my sun lounger!!! I had borrowed the book but have now bought it for my kindle so that I can read it again on holiday this year as it is so good!
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5.0 out of 5 stars unforgettable, 12 Nov 2011
By 
A. M. Fifield "titanne" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Gift of Rain (Kindle Edition)
What a beautiful novel! It has all elements to keep you wanting to read on: an incredibly difficult human story set in a beautiful country, in a horrendously cruel war, written in easy prose but so poetic at times. It touched me very deeply, I felt deeply for all characters, even if at times I wanted to hate some of them. The novel sheds so much light on the Chinese and Japanese culture, on their philosophies, so that in the end you understand why they did what they did. I can't give this enough praise and look forward to his second novel out in February 2012!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written, emotional, gripping., 11 Sep 2011
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This review is from: The Gift of Rain (Kindle Edition)
I bought this book expecting it to be one of those books about confused cultural identities, and in some ways it is about that but it is also so much more. It is a beautifully written and at times heart-breaking story. I don't want to give any of the story away, so all I will say is that this is the best book I have read for years. I can't recommend it enough.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Truly great, 7 Jun 2011
By 
Susanne (Surrey, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Gift of Rain (Kindle Edition)
This is one book that will stay with me for a long time. What a beautifully written story, mesmerising, lyrical, incredibly sad and yet uplifting. It is not often a book like this comes along, I can't believe it is the writer's first book. I finished it a week ago, but still it stays in my mind.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Deeply Affecting, 27 Mar 2011
This review is from: The Gift of Rain (Kindle Edition)
The power of the storytelling becomes quite apparent in the second half of the book since so gracefully has the author created Penang in the 1940s that when you are confronted with the unfolding tradagies of the war, like our main character, you too take the journey into eastern philosphies in a desperate search for relief from the pain of loss and beytrayal.
You would be hard pushed to argue that this is not a excellent novel.
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The Gift of Rain
The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng (Hardcover - 8 Mar 2007)
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