Posted by: Ele Quigan | August 26, 2013

The Garden of Evening Mists – Tan Twan Eng

In thinking about where to travel to next – I decided to start searching through amazon for “fiction” based on historical events within places I hadn’t been to. Malaysia has always interested me, a: I was born in Singapore and b: it just sounded like an interesting place to visit.

I didn’t know too much about it, but this book sorta sounded interesting…

Premise: Chinese woman judge who was tortured by the Japanese goes to learn how to make a Japanese garden for her sister, with the teacher an exiled gardener to the emperor.

Sounds interesting? Yes, but in general a little fluffy, almost purposefully depressing in places, and also a little smidge annoying.

She’s tasked with writing her own history as she has developed Aphasia – and is essentially losing her memory piece by piece. I can’t imagine what that eventually will be like – I struggle a little with memory sometimes, often referring to the other half, and finding it slightly embarrassing when I can’t pick a particular fact/place/time out of the air. To realise that it will eventually all be gone is more than a little terrifying so I guess I was slightly sympathetic.

But in general – the book felt kinda over done? It was very predictable, frustratingly so at times. The most interesting sub-story I found was of the failed kamikaze pilot, which was 3/4 through, and the overall story of the Japanese gardener – still kinda feel there should have been more to those parts of the story.

meh short review, but to be honest I don’t really have too much else to say about it… Disappointing for a booker shortlist…


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