I feel I’ve had a very close and personal relationship with this book and feel quite bereaved now that I’ve finished it. I want all my friends to read and enjoy it so that they too can have the same pleasure that I did! Every book has a subjective reader, however, - so it will be interesting to see if others also feel this is a beautifully written and stimulating story.
I chose this book because I am interested in Burma – but actually this is more of a generic read about dissidents and rebellion against oppressive regimes anywhere in the world. (“isn’t a dissident a politician without a bank account?”) It is an unsettling book because it is able to confront unpleasant thoughts and activities that one can usually consign to the back of one’s mind and not acknowledge overtly.
The author is minutely perceptive about the refugee camps (“a model refugee camp is synonymous with a model prison”) and she thinks the definition of a refugee is ‘someone who lives between arriving and leaving.’
She has the gift of beautiful prose in her extraordinarily close, and well-remembered, observation of all her surroundings – and does it through all the senses. (“his handsome toughness falling about him like a loose uniform”) (“dreams are the adolescent poetry of the subconscious”)
This book is thought-provoking and partly philosophical (“this is the nature of life in any politically oppressed country: reality itself has a personality disorder”). To consider this book only on these serious lines, however, would do it an injustice – it is above all a true love story and a page-turner. Karen Connelly is as good at analysing herself as she is her surroundings.