Tara's Reviews > The Flamboya Tree: Memories of a Mother's Wartime Courage

The Flamboya Tree by Clara Olink Kelly
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Jul 21, 2012

it was amazing
Read from July 21 to August 02, 2012 — I own a copy

I bought this book at a library sale because the cover was so lovely, and the story sounded interesting. Little did I know how interesting this book would be, or how the cover actually factors into the story.

I LOVED this little memoir. I'm sorry that the new edition changed the cover and the subtitle. The new subtitle is: Memories of a Family's War-Time Courage. However, this book is an incredible portrait of an unforgettable mother. Really, it's a daughter's ode to her mother's courage, and I think the better subtitle reflects this wonderful honor Clara bestowed on her mother.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in women's issues, history, war, humanity, and memoirs of people who triumph over incredible odds. The bulk of the memoir takes place in a Japanese concentration camp during WWII, in Java. Olink's family is Dutch, and her mother and her three children are taken hostage for four years. It's one of the most harrowing four years I've ever read about. But how the family perseveres, with the help of the painting featured on the cover of the Flamboya Tree, is magical. You will never forget this mother.

This is a very special book, beautifully written, and one I hope more will pick up and read and take on in book clubs. Finding little gems like this makes me determined to search my library sales more carefully....
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Reading Progress

06/26/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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message 1: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Don't you love finding books like this? Makes me keep donating books in hopes that it might be just the books someone else would like.


Tara That's an interesting pov, Cynthia, and as an author, I love your idea. Thanks for thinking of us in this way! Yes, I love stumbling on books of this quality that don't get much notice. I think you'd like this book a lot, too. Something to think about...


message 3: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Stop trying to grow my TBR stack!! lol


Tara I know, I know, I hear ya, but this is truly something special. I'd send you my copy but it's a keeper book for me. I was hoping I could donate it back to library and get it off my shelf, but I want to keep it as a favorite memoir. Sigh. So many books, so little time and space...I guess that's why many are turning to ereaders.


message 5: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue It does sound good Tara.

I know for me both my shelves and ereader stacks keep growing (though I try to get bargains only for the kindle). Somehow I find it difficult to accept the idea of paying much for a book I don't physically own. I suppose someday that feeling will change, but not right now. I'm still a Luddite in some things.


message 6: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue As a P.S., I've also found some great books recently in the library sale room and I've begun taking more of my books there too. I've noticed that more interesting titles seem to be showing up so I think people are re-thinking how they use this resource and their own books.

I do try to sell some of my books as I have found a store that buys some. But those that I no longer want to keep and no one wants to buy will go to the library. It's a win/win situation for all.


message 7: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia My Kindle has almost 1,000 books on it....most I've gotten free. I probably paid for half a dozen of them. The good thing is I can find the book I want on the Kindle. I'll never wind up re-buying a book ever again!!!! I have at least three copies of 'middlemarch' :(. It's cut down on house clutter immensely....though that can still be categorized as out of control. If I could find another four or five bookcases I'd have a handle on the books I already own. sigh


message 8: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue Cynthia wrote: "My Kindle has almost 1,000 books on it....most I've gotten free. I probably paid for half a dozen of them. The good thing is I can find the book I want on the Kindle. I'll never wind up re-buyin..."

I hear you Cynthia! I think I have a few hundred now. I just got my Fire in February but I've been downloading to my app since last year. Most of mine have been free also but I do buy some of the "deals" when they are on my tbr and books I know I really want to read at some point. I'm an equal opportunity accumulator. so far I haven't bought many duplicates, only a couple that I know of. And I have used the Kindle for a lot of the classics--especially the really big ones.

Have to admit sometimes I will spend $.99 or so to get an upgraded version with illustrations or an introduction that I want. I did that with Middlemarch to get the penguin version I believe; it wasn't much. sometimes it's better formatted than the free copies too.


message 9: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Yes the formatting can make a big difference in ease of use! 99 cents well spent.


Kiwileese I also bought my copy at a library book sale for a $1 what a wonderful story. :)


message 11: by Tara (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tara Kiwileese wrote: "I also bought my copy at a library book sale for a $1 what a wonderful story. :)"

Wasn't it? One of those authors I'd love to meet someday in person.


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