Has there been a film version?
Yes, in 1956 as a film and in 1981 into a TV miniseries.
Who are the important characters?
Jean Paget – a young woman who finds herself a transient prisoner and leader of a group of women in children in the country of Malay when it is invaded by the Japanese
Noel Strachan – a solicitor (lawyer in the UK) in charge of Mr. MacFadden’s will
Joe Harman – an Australian captured in Malay by the Japanese
What’s it about?
Jean Paget is a very rich woman – almost. Her entire family is dead from one thing or another, and her uncle has left her a great deal of money to be inherited when she is 35 and not before. Jean, however, is a sensible woman. She tells her solicitor and the supervisor of her estate, Noel Strachan, about her experiences in Malay when the Japanese invaded and she was taken prisoner along with 35 other women and their children. They were forced to walk all over the country, almost 2500 miles, nearly unsupervised as the Japanese were too busy fighting a war to take care of them. And she tells him of the tenacious Australian prisoner who stole food and medicine for them and also managed to capture her independent heart, until he was crucified by the Japanese.
Why is this book a classic?
It’s an enchanting love story and a tale of overcoming obstacles. Usually those make for a good read.
Do you recommend I read this book?
Yes, it’s pretty alright.
Why did this book make your list?
I don’t remember. Probably from one of my Top 100 lists somewhere…
Has it won any awards?
“She smiled gently, ‘Do I have to remind you, Mat Amin, that it is written, ‘Men’s souls are naturally inclined to covetousness; but if ye be kind towards women and fear to wrong them, God is well acquainted with what ye do.” He laughed and slapped his thigh. ‘You said that to me many times when you lived here, whenever you wanted something, but I have not heard it since!'” – p 108
Nevil Shute also wrote the book “On the Beach” which is about the end of the world. However, he hated the movie version. Not because they changed the ending but because he felt the movie producers took too much liberty in making his characters expressive.
I had no idea what this book was about when I checked it out of the library. And my fears weren’t assuaged when I read the back proclaiming it as a “very satisfying war romance.” My thoughts were more along the lines of “well, crap.” I wasn’t in the mood for a war story, and I definitely didn’t want to read a romance novel. Ick. But fortunately, this really could be categorized as neither one of those. The main character’s experiences with the war aren’t the usual blood and guts and violent death at the hands of the enemy. And the romance isn’t the heaving chesties and out-of-control brooding lonesome sex crazed men type of romance. It’s surprisingly clean from both sex and gore. And a wonderful story on top of that. I enjoyed it immensely and would recommend it to almost anyone.