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Group Reads Archive > The Jacaranda Tree by H E Bates (June 2017)

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message 1: by Ally (new)

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1653 comments Mod
Welcome to the July 2017 group read of...

The Jacaranda Tree by H.E. Bates


message 2: by Ally (new)

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1653 comments Mod
I know it's a couple of days early but as I have the bank holiday Monday off work I thought I'd capitalise on the free time and get the new threads up for June.

For the first time ever (I think) I'm ahead of the game with my reading and I've already finished this one...I thought it was great. A very easy read due to being so well written with some themes that demand thought. I can't wait to see what others think.

If you haven't started yet, do pay attention as you read to how Bates uses colour in the narrative...

message 3: by Ally (new)

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1653 comments Mod
Written in 1949 but set in 1942 when the Japanese occupied Singapore and invaded Burma forcing it's residents to flee for India. A dangerous journey that meant days/weeks on a hot and dusty road. I found that this book was very good at helping me to understand the searing heat, the hustle and bustle, the smells etc. so that the environment just came to life as I read.

I'm not sure how many of you are planning to join in with our June group read so I don't want to give too much away - there are some spectacular plot twists!

It becomes clear very early that Peterson is not your average colonial civil servant but that he has clear leadership and organisational strengths that bring a mis-matched group of expats together for the journey to safety. I didn't like any of the characters of this book, except perhaps 'mad' Mrs Betteson but that might be more pity and empathy than 'like' (...indeed who wouldn't be a little mad with a husband like hers!). The Portmans and the McNairns were awful but good characters for a novel. What did you think of the characters initially?

message 4: by Jennifer W (new)

Jennifer W | 1002 comments Mod
I hope to get to it at some point, but I haven't had a chance.

message 5: by Val (new)

Val I have read it and enjoyed it on the whole.
They are not a particularly pleasant bunch of characters and they are not given much depth. I am not sure to what extent their shallowness is part of them as individuals or whether the author just doesn't write complex characters.
I agree with you about the descriptions of the place and the journey though Ally, all that dust, heat, sweat, etc. was evoked very well.

message 6: by Ally (new)

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1653 comments Mod
I wonder if the lack of depth in the characters is a device? I see a lot of stereotypes depicted...and the author has plans for each character that seem to demand detachment from the reader.

message 7: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1525 comments I haven't decided yet if I will try and find this book. It didn't look readily available to me.

message 8: by Connie (new)

Connie G (connie_g) | 162 comments I have the book, and should be able to start it in a few days.

message 9: by Janice (JG) (new)

Janice (JG) I've started it, and the writing is good. It moves quickly. There's a constant undercurrent of class consciousness, rivalries, etc. Yes, possibly stereotypes, but Paterson is definitely a horse of a different color. Nadia and her brother are treated very gently compared to the obnoxious Europeans, and this contrast may be deliberate. I can't say I'm looking forward to being on the road with this group, and I do hope there are some redemptive moments, but I am enjoying the read so far, regardless of the likeability of the characters.

message 10: by Connie (new)

Connie G (connie_g) | 162 comments Nadia and Tuesday were very loyal and uncomplaining, and Paterson treated them with a gentle affection. Even when Tuesday didn't completely understand what was being said, he showed a lot of intelligence and was a good judge of people. He knew that his great smile helped keep the expats happy, and used it any time he was uncertain. Nadia showed Paterson her love and loyalty with the thermometer incident late in the book.

message 11: by Connie (new)

Connie G (connie_g) | 162 comments I was reading that H.E. Bates was an avid gardener, and wrote books on gardening. I was impressed with his descriptions of Burma's natural beauty and the fruit. His descriptions of the dirt and heat on the road were also very good.

message 12: by Ally (new)

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1653 comments Mod
The relationships with Nadia and Tuesday contrast heavily with the relationships with the rest of the expat community. More genuine rather than out of a sense of obligation. I was really touched by Tuesday and his broken radio...I hope he got a working version eventually.

message 13: by Janice (JG) (new)

Janice (JG) Whoa! (view spoiler)

message 14: by Ally (new)

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1653 comments Mod
Whoa indeed! I knew when I got to that point in the book that it was worth continuing. It's really well paced and definitely keeps you reading.

message 15: by Val (new)

Val I thought it was interesting that all the characters who wanted to be useful to the country (view spoiler)

message 16: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1525 comments Another book that I won't get until the end of the month.

message 17: by Janice (JG) (new)

Janice (JG) As fast a read as this book is, it is far more complex than I had expected. I never really knew where the story was heading, which I enjoyed.

I also enjoyed reading about Burma (currently Myanmar). I've only read one other novel about Burma - Amy Tan's fascinating & peculiar Saving Fish from Drowning - and in both of these books now I continue to realize just how unfamiliar Burmese culture is to me as an American, even tho' I have had exposure to several Asian cultures. I think I want to know more... does anyone have any suggestions for other Burmese novels or books?

message 18: by Ally (new)

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1653 comments Mod
I agree Janice, well paced and ripples of depth.

There is also The Purple Plain by H.E. Bates which was also set in Burma. I haven't read it yet but The Jacaranda Tree has encouraged me to do so.

I also loved Burmese Days by George Orwell.

message 19: by Janice (JG) (new)

Janice (JG) Ally wrote: "I agree Janice, well paced and ripples of depth.

There is also The Purple Plain by H.E. Bates which was also set in Burma. I haven't read it yet but The Jacaranda Tr..."

Thanks Ally, I will check these out.

message 20: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1525 comments My book finally came today. Will start it either tonight or tomorrow.

message 21: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (violaashford) | 8 comments I love H.E. Bates, especially Love for Lydia, but I am very behind in my reading.
I actually own War in Val D'Orcia so I am looking forward to reading it again and Rumer Godden is also one of my favorite authors. (I can't find the italics!)

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