I am lucky enough to be part of the blog tour for Ann Bennett’s newest book in her Bamboo trilogy. I have been sent copies of all three books in exchange for an honest review.
These books can be read in any order as they do not follow a narrative one after the other and I have currently only had the opportunity to finish ‘Bamboo Heart’. However, based upon what I have read in this first book, I will certainly be picking up the next two (so keep your eyes peeled for those reviews!)
These books are not the kind that I would usually pick up in a bookshop, however, I am very grateful that I was sent them as I found it very difficult to put ‘Bamboo Heart’ down. It is an area of history that I know close to nothing about, which made it fascinating to learn about. It is also an incredibly moving and powerful book as this is an area of history that has not been covered by lots of authors in many different ways, and it is horrific yet important to read about what happened to the men who took part in building the railway.
I found the movement between the pas, with Tom working on the railway and his daughter Laura looking for information about what happened to him in the 80s the perfect set up for this book. It allowed some breathing space from Tom’s past and a chance to recover from these very emotionally charged sections of the book.
Even if historical fiction is not usually your type of book, I would highly recommend this series, it is very easy to read, despite the emotional storyline. It unrolls gently whilst also being packed full of information, It shows that it has been well researched and the author clearly knows exactly what she is writing about, something very important within this genre.
Let me know if you decide to pick up any of the books in the series and keep your eyes peeled for reviews of the next two books. Also, check out the other bloggers who have taken part and who are taking part in this blog tour!
Thailand, 1943: Thomas Ellis, captured by the Japanese at the fall of Singapore, is a prisoner-of-war on the Death Railway. In stifling heat he endures endless days of clearing jungle, breaking stone and lugging wood. He must stay alive, although he is struck down by disease and tortured by Japanese guards, and he must stay strong, although he is starving and exhausted. For Tom has made himself a promise: to return home. Not to the grey streets of London, where he once lived, but to Penang, where he found paradise and love. London, 1986: Laura Ellis, a successful City lawyer, turns her back on her yuppie existence and travels to Southeast Asia. In Thailand and Malaysia she retraces her father’s past and discovers the truths he has refused to tell her. And in the place where her father once suffered and survived, she will finally find out how he got his Bamboo Heart. In a blend of stirring fiction and heart-wrenching history, Ann Bennett narrates the story of a soldier’s strength and survival in the bleakest of times and a daughter’s journey of discovery about her father and herself.
Juliet Crosby has lived a reclusive life on her Malayan rubber plantation since the Second World War robbed her of everyone she loved. However, the sudden appearance of a young woman from Indonesia disrupts her lonely existence and stirs up unsettling memories. Juliet is forced to recollect her prewar marriage, her wartime ordeals in Japanese-occupied Singapore and the loss of those she once held dear.
Thailand 1942: Sirinya and her family are members of the Thai underground, who risk their lives to resist the World War Two Japanese occupation and to and help British prisoners of war building the Thai-Burma railway. The events of those years have repercussions for decades to come. The book tells Sirinya’s wartime story and how in the 1970s she returns to Kanchanaburi after a long absence abroad, to settle old scores from the war years.
About the author:
Ann Bennett was born and raised in a small village in Northamptonshire, UK. She read Law at Cambridge and qualified and practised as a solicitor. During a career break, to have children, she started to write. Her father had been a prisoner of war on the Thailand– Burma Railway and the idea for a Southeast Asian WWII trilogy came from researching his wartime experiences. The research took her back to Asia, a place she loves and has returned to many times. She lives in Surrey with her husband and three sons and works in London as a lawyer.