I finished reading this novel some time ago but only got round to this review today. It held my interest in the beginning but my attention to the novel started to wane towards the middle of the novel especially when I came across some typo errors and I really hate to find typos in novels. Once that happens, I start to lose just about all interest in a novel no matter how gripping it was initially.
This novel spans several decades in pre-independence Singapore from the 20s to the 50s when Singapore was beginning its fight for independence from the yoke of the British colonisers. The central figures are 3 people – a Chinese girl called Mei Lan, a Eurasian boy called Howard and an Indian migrant called Raj.
These three persons first meet on a bus during Chinatown riots. They are to meet each other again later in life. There’s a forbidden romance between Mei Lan and Howard while Raj finds opportunities for making money during the Japanese Occupation.
There’s heartache and turmoil in the lives of the main characters but I didn’t feel for any of them even though I am impressed with the detailed descriptions of places and events that take place. Each of the characters struggle to make a better life for themselves and to survive during the Second World War.
Mei Lan comes from a rich family with a profligate father and an English educated mother, Howard grows up in a lodging house owned by his mother while Raj was an employee at Manikam’s Cloth Shop. If you’re interested to know more about Singapore during the Japanese Occupation years, then this might be a good read.
It didn’t quite get me racing to the bookstore to discover more of the author’s other books but since I purchased the book at 50% off (original price RM35.90) it was worth the money. However, it did take me ages to finish it because I just wasn’t that interested in the ending.