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The White Pearl Paperback – 16 Feb 2012
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Exhilarating . . . An engrossing read (Publishers Weekly)
The White Pearl has all the ingredients of the best kinds of holiday reads - grand adventure, drama, romance . . . The setting is sweeping, the story big, and the description vivid (Courier Mail)
A wonderfully evocative tale (Sun)
Set against the attack on Pearl Harbour, the breathtakingly epic new novel from the bestselling author of The Russian ConcubineSee all Product description
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Top customer reviews
'The White Pearl' is a historical romance set in Malaya during World War II. The central character, Connie, lives near Kuala Lumpur with her husband Nigel, a British colonial plantation owner, and their young son, Teddy. When Connie accidentally causes the death of a native woman in a road accident, it is the beginning of a terrifying ordeal. Connie believes the dead woman has cursed her and that her two orphaned children, Maya and Razak, are intent on avenging their mother.
When the Imperial Japanese army invades Malaya, Connie and her family try to escape on the family's boat, The White Pearl. On this perilous journey Connie has to come to terms with secrets from her own and her family's past.
The greatest thing about this book is the scene-setting. The author appeals to all the senses with her descriptions of the sights, sounds, heat and smells of the jungles and shanty-towns of this colonial outpost. I was also impressed with the portrayal of Connie's character: she comes across as fragile and feminine but with a shining inner strength.
Many of the other characters, however, are implausible and I was unable to believe in them. I could not visualise, for instance, Connie's love affair with Sho, and the dialogue was stilted and unconvincing. This is a character-driven book where the plot acts only as background. The failure of the characters to drive the story is a major criticism therefore.
It is not a bad book. Worth reading for the unusual and exotic location, evocatively descriptive writing, and fascinating vignette of colonial life. But I shan't be keeping it on my shelf with a view to a future second reading.
The author's great imagination is her strong suit. A lot of attention has been put in detailing the scene, conveying the culture, the political diversities and the language. Her writing portrays the time, the place and the mood exceptionally well. The story is mainly told in the third person and the plotting is quite diversified. It is a war time tale of betrayal, survival, the quest for love and freedom, also the price paid to enjoy some of the perks we take for granted today. As a side bar in the form of flashbacks the author covers Connie Hadley's affair with a Japanese businessman before the war. The pacing is slow and steady, the characterization although diverse lacks in realism at times, some of the players were under developed and others dragged on a little too much.
This is a fairly light and entertaining novel, however having read others from this writer I would not consider it one of her best, all that said and done I did enjoy it for what it is.