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The Gift of Rain
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Group Reads Archive > The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng (2013 Reading Challenge)

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message 1: by Ally (new) - added it

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1653 comments Mod
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The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng

Jennifer W | 1002 comments Mod
I read chapter 1 last night. It seems our main character is quite tormented by his past!!

Jennifer W | 1002 comments Mod
I'm about 80 pages in. I'm surprised at the extent that several empires have been mentioned in relation to the main characters. There is talk of how the Brits influenced the area, but also the Chinese and Japanese influences as well. This far, I'm finding this to be a well-rounded type of book which focuses on the characters but also the way in which the wider world impacts them.

message 4: by Val (last edited Jan 31, 2013 12:18AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Val I reserved this one at the library over three weeks ago, but there is only one copy in the whole county and someone else had it first.
My Dad spent several years in Singapore as a child and talked about it a lot, so I am looking forward to reading this book.
The political situation looks really, really complicated, so I think I might just concentrate on the cultural differences!

message 5: by Jan C (new) - added it

Jan C (woeisme) | 1525 comments I just started this the other day. His writing reminds me greatly of Ishiguro and I didn't just re-read Remains of the Day. But I have read it and the one that followed, but not Never Let Me Go.

I guess the way it starts just reminds me of him. The language, sentence structure, what-have-you. It seemed very reminiscent of Ishiguro. To me anyway.

Susan | 774 comments I am about a quarter of the way through this book and I would agree with you, Jan, that the style reminds me of Ishiguro. On paper, this does not look the type of book I would like - however, I am actually finding that I am quite drawn into it. If you have already finished it I would be interested in your thoughts.

message 7: by Val (new) - rated it 3 stars

Val The descriptions of places are beautifully written and brought the landscape and vegetation to life. I couldn't get as good a sense of the people or culture, which was a shame.

Susan | 774 comments I think I felt it would be a struggle and so it is a relief that I don't dislike it. It is beautifully written and very descriptive.

Susan | 774 comments I thought this a beautiful novel and absolutely loved it, despite being a little nervous when I read about the martial arts themes, etc. However, a really good book and I know I will read his other novel at some time.

message 10: by Val (new) - rated it 3 stars

Val I did like the language, but I found it too difficult to relate to either the culture or the various characters' actions to enjoy it all that much. It is always going to take more effort to get into a different cultural mindset, but I found it more difficult than usual for this book. I didn't have as much of a problem with his other book, which I read first, although he wrote it afterwards.

Susan | 774 comments It was odd, Val. Looking at it, even now, I don't feel I should have enjoyed it as much as I did. Sometimes you just have to accept you like it for what it is, I guess. I would like to read his next book.

Jennifer W | 1002 comments Mod
I have returned to reading this book, and I'm enjoying it as much as I did the first time. I'm about halfway through. I like that his family has returned and they now are more human to both the reader and to Phillip. I am still wondering at how his actions could have killed so many and also saved so many. It is referenced several times, but most recently by the young journalist who gets too personal in his questions.

I wonder Val, would you have been able to get into the story more if Phillip was not half Chinese? Other than the obvious parts about his mother's heritage, could this story have been written that way? For me, I love that he's biracial, but then again, I'm enjoying the story exactly as it is.

Susan, I love it when I can say "I liked this book more than I should have." I don't know why, but it feels like I've cheated somehow and I came out the better for it.

message 13: by Val (new) - rated it 3 stars

Val I had no problem with the Chinese cultural references, it was more the Japanese ones I had difficulty relating to. I also thought there was a strange lack of Malaysian ones; almost everyone was from an immigrant community of some kind, which made it seem as if it was set in a bit of a cultural no-man's land. I was not expecting to have any difficulty with the cultural mix, as my Dad talked about growing up in Malaysia a lot and it should have been more familiar than it was.

Jennifer W | 1002 comments Mod
I just finished and wow! Thus far, the best book I've read this year. I love how deep each of the characters were. Though, I'll admit, the Japanese characters were so guarded that it was harder to get a sense of them and their heritage. It felt to me that Penang was a melting pot, perhaps as a result of the British influence? The Brits brought infrastructure, money and jobs. I wonder, if the British hadn't settled there if they would have bothered liberating it from the Japanese? If they had a sense that they had to reclaim it, rather than what was good for the people who suffered under the Japanese.

Do people know of other books about the Pacific arena in WWII? I've read When the Elephants Dance and A Gift of the Emperor.

Susan | 774 comments Jennifer, I'm glad you enjoyed this too. I have to admit I thought that it wouldn't appeal to me. However, this was a really beautiful novel and I was totally drawn into the storyline and characters.

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