Archive for March, 2015

Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng

Martin is kindly keeping the Book Group Blog up-to-date in my absence. Here is his account of the March meeting:

For once we were unanimous in agreeing that Tan was a very good writer, “How nice to have a book I could enjoy” ; “I enjoyed it so much I am re-reading it immediately.” All five agreed that he had shed light on a period and place in history we knew little about. The story about a Chinese Malay who experienced horrendous treatment during the Japanese occupation, rose to be a judge in the ensuing war crimes trials and later in general Malayan life. It explores her surprising relationship with two Japanese in later life and her learning the arts of Japanese gardening, archery and tattooing. This precis does not do justice to the scope of the novel whose many byways are often as interesting as the main plot. The descriptive writing was so vivid that it brought back the very scent of the jungle to a reader who had visited Malaya.
As so often I had phillistinic reservations about anything smacking of art and mythology. I have visited many Japanese gardens and remained wholly uninspired and I consider all tattooing a disfigurement. As for being so good at archery you can now do it without using an arrow …. Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb. So I admired this book but I found it a difficult read because I disagreed with much of the concept.Everyone else loved it unreservedly.

Martin LeFevre

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About the book group

The Berwick Book Group meets on the first Tuesday of every month at the First Class Passenger Lounge on the platform of Berwick Train Station at 6.30pm.

If you would like more information about what the group is reading, please visit www.newwritingnorth.com/submit/join-berwick-book-group.

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