The Garden of Evening Mists Hardcover – 11 Feb 2012
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Just as elegantly planted as his Man Booker-long listed debut The Gift of Rain, and even more tantalisingly evocative. --Boyd Tonkin, The Independent
Delicately complex; effortless elegance --Ruth Browne, Cape Times
The international bestseller, winner of the Man Asian Literary Prize 2012 and the 2013 Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2012 and the 2014 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
His writing is magical and he paints vivid pictures of the Malaysian jungle near Cameron Heights. His introduces a longstanding family friend who is a survivor of the Boer War. Like the Judge he has experienced loss as his family was put in a concentration camp by the British. The battle for independence and the fight against communism also adds further depth to this fascinating story, which is wonderfully crafted throughout.
A must read.
Ostensibly this is the tale of Yun Ling, a retired Malaysian judge, who returns to the highlands and to a garden she helped build after the war with the enigmatic former gardener to Emperor Hirohito, Aritomo. The garden of the title is a garden steeped in memory for her, but as the mists of memory shift, further mysterious facets of Aritomo's life are revealed. Who was he? What was his role in Malaysia? Tied to this is Yun Ling's individual journey, from Japanese prisoner of war to judge; the route of her recovery, of her making peace with her wartime experiences is inextricably linked to her learning the ancient art of Japanese gardens, learning how to look at things differently. The two stories find perfect harmony and expression in the garden as layer upon layer of detail is slowly added.
"The Garden of Evening Mists" is such a vibrant novel, with the narratives of Yun Ling and Aritomo intertwined and growing alongside those of Magnus and Emily (owners of the neighbouring tea plantation), Frederik (their heir), Yun Hong (Yun Ling's sister), Tatsuji (a Japanese academic) and those of Malaysia and Japan as they move beyond the shadows cast by the war. Within these stories also bloom tales of art, history, love, loss, honour, duty and regret within beautiful, lyrical prose.
This is a really fantastic novel. I shall be reading it again very soon, in the meantime, I recommend it whole-heartedly.
I loved his first novel, 'The Gift of Rain,' and this one has an even greater profundity. I like especially the way in which he connects the past memories of his hero, Judge Teoh Yun Ling, with her present existence.
The real subject of the story is a Japanese Gardener, Nakamura Aritomo. He had once been the gardener of the Emperor of Japan. Yun Ling's story is intimately connected with Aritomo and the unique relationship between the two. There are several interesting characters and each plays a vital part in the unfolding of the story.
On the very first page Tan Twan Eng writes,
- "Thirty-six years after that morning, I hear his voice again, hollow and resonant. Memories I had locked away began to break free, like shards of ice fracturing off an arctic shelf. In sleep these broken floes drift towards the morning light of remembrance."
That's a marvellous paragraph and immediately hooked me on the story. Its a beautiful book full of wonderful and moving images as well as being an intriguing read.
This is a book that leaves you wondering what understanding you still may have missed, even after two readings. It is rich, dense, challenging and yet strangely reassuring; soothing in tone. Valuably describing a past time and place; offering a true education to be absorbed slowly, paying respect for a writer who takes his time, using words as paint, creating pictures that will stay forever in the mind.
I should also add that it kept our Book Club (8 members this month) talking for over two hours and some of us all the way home in the car too!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I bought this book on the strength of a BBC World Radio Book Club feature. I have travelled in Southeast Asia and am well acquainted with the history of these countries in the... Read morePublished 16 days ago by MJ
Another marvellously absorbing read. Tells the story of a sister who tries to learn how to build a Japanese garden in memory of her sister after she was tortured and killed in the... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Elegant, beautiful, lyrical, unputdownable. This is a wonderful book with subtle themes - memory, forgiveness, guilt, loss - set in post war Malaysia. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Bookworm
Another excellent book by this brilliant author, lyrical, poetical writing and a great story.Published 1 month ago by lynnerz
An amazingly beautiful story. Rivetting! History ans a great deal of story.Published 2 months ago by h