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Thursday, 7 June 2012


review by Babs Simpson live on show 7th June2012
I've read several of this author's novels, which cover many aspects of World War II, a subject that interests me largely because when I was growing up it still dominated people's lives in so many ways.

This story is about the fall of Singapore to the Japanese in 1941 and is fascinating. The main character, Susan Roper, has grown up in the privileged world of British ex-patriates - plenty of servants, plenty of everything, tennis and swimming parties, dances and the attention of young men. Altough war is raging on the other side of the world, it does not trouble Singapore which is believed to be virtually impregnable - the sea on three sides and impenetrable jungle on the fourth and, of course, under the protection of the mighty Royal Navy.

But, of course, the Japanese do invade and terrifyingly quickly over-run the colony.

Susan's father stays on, her mother leaves on a ship bound for Australia and safety, while Susan, after much indecision, ends up on another ship in charge of a young English boy and a little Chinese girl, both of whose mothers have been killed in the bombing.
Their ship is torpedoed, leaving Susan and her charges adrift for days before being washed up on a small tropical island where they are eventually taken prisoner and sent to a Japanese prison camp for women and children.

This is a very powerful story and the contrast between Colonial life of privilege and comfort and the unimaginable privations and horror of the camps are starkly drawn.

I always enjoy Margaret Mayhew's books and this one is exceptionally good. I would whole-heartedly recommend it as a satisfyingly good read.

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