Atmosphere atmosphere atmosphere!! The book takes you straight to the tropical weather of Malaya.The atmosphere is weaved into the sentences she writes. Connie , an expat from England enters a new life in Malaya, her husband being a rubber plantation owner.She has been living in Malaya for years when the story begins ,however she is not yet used to the hot and humid weather of the country. The introduction of the native girl 'Maya' in the story is so strong that for a time I wondered as to who was the real heroine. Maya belongs to the poor section of the society and her thoughts are always on the mundane things of life.
"What would you like for your future"? Connie asks.
Maya replies "plenty of food and a bicycle"
Maya is always analysing what the white people speak and what is going on in their minds. She doesn't trust them.
The war where the Japanese attacked Malaya in 1941 ,when it was under the British rule, is the highlight of the book. The author has done good research and the history is authentic.
Connie's relation with her husband and son as well as Maya , brings out her kind and compassionate nature. And her connection with the Japanese is well embedded in the story.
'Madoc' and 'kitty' are characters whose story runs parallel to the main characters and one knows that they have to meet with the central character somewhere in the story.
Connie's escape from Malaya on a boat ( the white pearl), along with her family and friends, is full of adventure,complete with war planes, hidden islands and death.
The author makes use of lot of similes throughout the story.
"Humidity was something solid, like running into a brick wall"
She gives the readers an olfactory perception of the atmosphere .
"Smell of rotting vegetation, suffocating, smelled strongly of wood smoke"
I love books which have a backdrop of history and where one can learn about different cultures and countries. If you have the same interests this book is a good read .
Kate furnivall's websit