Rachell's Reviews > And the Rain My Drink

And the Rain My Drink by Han Suyin
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's review
Mar 02, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: mcg-book-club
Read from October 16 to 18, 2011

I have to take exception to the synopsis, which is way off. Perhaps it was written by someone who was even more confused by the novel's complete lack of structure? For the record: And The Rain My Drink, set in southeastern Malaysia (then Malaya) and Singapore during the Emergency, before independence, tells the story of the British Authority's feckless campaign against the Communists, and the cast of Malays, bourgeois Chinese, rubber tappers (again Chinese), and British officers who are swept into the chaos.

The novel is promising as a historical romance in the epic mode, with an undercooked polemic shoehorned into the middle of it. As a whole, it's something of a mess. Characters are introduced and then suddenly disappear, as the narrative shifts to a different point of view; terrible events happen without any resolution; pages are given over to clunky dialog illustrating the British Authority's incompetence (which I'm not disputing, by the way; it just seems like there are more convincing ways to portray it). To top it all off is Han's florid prose, which strangles the pace of the novel like the Malayan jungle that dominates the imagery of the novel. Here's a sample: "Although transfigured by his vision swooping upon her...knowing herself no longer a tasteless formless lump, mechanical body,...but Woman, created from the effluvia of man's desire, become through the need of a man eternal mystery, mystic lotus, Beatitude, Beauty out of the sea, breast and belly and sex, desire's blossom which is Beauty..." And on like that for the rest of the paragraph.

It's a shame, because the subject is a fascinating one that has repercussions in today's world, not just in Southeast Asia. But I can't recommend anyone slog through this muddle; it's as cruel as making them live in huts in the swamp.
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Florence I definitely agree with you on the prose. I couldn't even finish it.

Rachel I found it unreadable which was very embarrassing as it was picked for book group and unlike the rest of you I can't really not go!

Rachell I could have dealt with the livid purpleness of the writing if she hadn't been so sloppy! I couldn't figure out where Han was going for about 3/4 of the book, and the last 100 pages feel like they came from a different book entirely. I also read it for (a different) book club, so I am looking forward to venting.

I'm curious if the movie based on her other book, a many-splendored thing, is any good. It won a bajillion Oscars, but it was also the '50s.

Florence Love is a Many-Splendoured Thing on IMDB >>

Writing credits have her name as the novel's author.

message 5: by Lihsian (new)

Lihsian Great review, Rachell - couldn't agree with you more. You are right, the writing has a kind of choking effect on the reader. Left me with a big headache and I could not go beyond the first few chapters

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