Monday, November 19, 2007

Breaking the Tongue

This is an amazing work of historical fiction from the pen of Vyvyane Loh. She has created believable characters, particularly the young hero Claude Lim, and put them in an historical setting that is brought alive in this intelligent novel. We see the Chinese family trying to emulate their British colonial masters and watch as their society crumbles in the face of the Japanese invasion of December, 1942. But mostly this is Claude's story as he learns from his Grandmother Siok, befriends the Englishman Jack Winchester and in turn is befriended by the Chinese nurse Han Ling-Li. Slowly Claude matures and becomes reconciled with his Chinese ethnicity. This novel seamlessly blends the personal stories with the turmoil of invasion. One more for my list of great historical novels.

Breaking the Tongue by Vyvyane Loh. W.W. Norton Co., New York. 2004.

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