Drama · Historical

The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng

What is it about?

This novel spans three different periods of one woman’s (Yun Ling) life; her time in a Japanese POW camp in the Second World War, the 1950s when she works as a gardener’s apprentice (this is where the bulk of the story happens) during the Malayan Emergency, and when she is an old woman. As an old woman she is suffering from a disease that will eventually prevent her from understanding words and so she is writing about her life experiences; largely, her relationship with a Japanese gardener and how he helped her to make sense of her life after the war.

 

Is it any good?

The Garden of Evening Mists is the most immersive book I have read in a long time. Each word is a brush stroke painting a stunning picture of the Malayan mountains in which this story takes place. All three periods of Yun Ling’s life that are touched on in the book are weaved together seamlessly to create a rich tapestry of a narrative; however, this sometimes gets a little bit confusing as the reader tries to keep track of the myriad characters and how they all interlink. I knew nothing about Japanese gardening, the Malayan Emergency or Japanese POW camps when I started reading this book, but this didn’t stop it from being a beautifully moving read.

 

Rating: 9/10

How long did it take to read: six days

For fans of: Memoirs of a Geisha, gardening, politics, tea, metaphors, The Samurai’s Garden

This book tastes like: beef broth

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