This book is one of those books that you sit curled up with on a Sunday in bed. You read slowly, turning each page with much love cherishing every page as the story unfurls slowly. It is not one of those books you cant read it at one go. It took me a while to complete it.
The book opens to a newly retired Supreme Court Judge Yun Ling Teoh who returns to her native land of Malaya. On returning home she is forced to come face to face with a torrid past which has been pushed to the dark realms of the mind. With an illness threatening to wipe her off her memory she decides to pen her thoughts about the life and works of Aritmo who was a Japanese gardener of great fame, despite her trauma of living in a Japanese camp.
The book outlines the history in its starkness where Japan invaded Malaysia, the Malaysian emergency and finally a free Malaysia. This is undoubtedly one of the finest historical fiction I have come across. The pace of the book is rather slow but it has the ability to transcend you to a whole new world! If you can get past the funny sounding names, this book is a treat!
The central theme of the novel is the role of memory in human life, and the relationship between memory and forgetting. It reminds you much about One Hundred Years of Solitude which talks about the memory inherited due to colonization here it just refers to Japanese invasion of Malaysia. It truly is a literary gem that leaves you in awe of the wonderful piece of literature in front of you.
Genre: Historial Fiction
Publisher: Random House