This book was brilliant on so many levels. I read it purely as it was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize and had not read Tan Twan Eng’s first novel. More so as it was published ‘up North’ and if it gets the North East seal of approval then I just had to read it. That’s enough of a recommendation for me.
And now, I will definitely read the first book, since if this one is anything to go by, I’m in for another treat.
I have never been to Japan but this story transported me, far away to foreign world in turmoil, with characters who I genuinely cared about. It is a story of the history of Malaysia especially around the 2nd World War and the Japanese take over and the subsequent struggle of those living though it. There were times when the tension was unbearable, it is so hard to even begin to understand what these people went through.
This wonderful story weaves its way into your heart and doesn’t let you go. It is an exceptional journey through a particularly tough period of history. What I found very well done was the interweaving story of the war time savagery. This is a tale of love and forgiveness that grows and blossoms like the garden at the centre of the book. The two main characters – a former gardener to the Emperor of Japan and the Malayan Chinese prosecutor of Japanese war criminals, who subsequently becomes a judge – hold the various threads of this interweaving and beautiful story together.
This book made me want to continue my travels – this time to Japan and to truly see the beauty in both the Japanese landscape and its people.