2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The chasms between cultures,
This review is from: Shame and the Captives (Kindle Edition)
The Australian officers, in charge of the compounds where several different nationalities of interns are housed, have varying degrees of understanding and kindness towards their charges. For Major Suttor, it is a bargain, a balance, as his son David is prisoner of war in Changi and on the Burma railroad. News of him is sketchy so his father very much uses 'Do as you would be done by' as his approach. He has an interesting side to him, he writes a successful radio drama, along the lines of The Archers in the UK.
Alice, left stranded on an outback farm with her father in law Duncan, following the capture of her husband Neville, by Germany, feels much the same. A young Italian prisoner, Giancarlo, is delivered to help them out. An intense relationship follows, with unexpected consequences.
Shame comes in all forms. Primarily the shame of the Japanese warriors who are already as dead to their families and have little to lose, but much to gain from splendid eternity. They open out their chests for a bullet and devise various other efficient ways of achieving glory by death. The other kind of shame might be that which is felt by the unintended abuse of kindness, in Alice's case. Duncan is doing his level best to keep going and waits for the return of his on to the farm while hoping another will be as fair to him as he is being to the stranger in their midst. Alice has another agenda.
Throughout, the translator, Nevski, is a sad chorus character, an onlooker without power who can see both sides.
The tension rises towards the full moon when the Japanese plan a rebellion. Meanwhile animals must be tended, polite local society respected, rocky marriages must be nursed along, administration for the camp kept up to date. We are there with them, drawn into the drama, it all feels as real as Thomas Keneally could hope. He based his story on a similar true event.
I liked the book, but didn't love it. There are a great many folk to get to know and care about, all the while placing myself in an unusual time and area at the end of WWII. However I have learned from it and feel all such literature has a levelling, explanatory purpose which is hugely valuable to a stay at home like me!