Bamboo Island

Written by Ann Bennett
Review by Cathy Kemp

Malaysia has a history largely unknown to many in the West, and the events that took place during the Second World War may come as a shock to the reader in this tale. Ann Bennett has undertaken some extensive research in order to produce a fictional story with realistic backgrounds. Layers are skilfully revealed through diary entries, letters and reminiscences to provide a believable storyline.

Juliet Crosby has suffered significantly during the past 20 years and secreted herself away from society on her rubber plantation in order to forget her past. The appearance of a young woman, Mary, at her home one evening shakes her into remembering, though those memories are full of pain. We are gradually encouraged to view the atrocities endured by her and those around her during the Japanese invasion and the subsequent incarceration in camps of enormous depravation. Juliet and Mary embark on a journey together to uncover their links with each other and their shared history. This is an enlightening tale, with well-rounded characters and an engaging storyline, making it an enjoyable read.