The Garden of Evening Mists

The Garden of Evening Mists

by Tan Twan Eng

Overview: Malaya, 1951. Yun Ling Teoh, the scarred lone survivor of a brutal Japanese wartime camp, seeks solace among the jungle-fringed tea plantations of Cameron Highlands. There she discovers Yugiri, the only Japanese garden in Malaya, and its owner and creator, the enigmatic Aritomo, exiled former gardener of the emperor of Japan. Despite her hatred of the Japanese, Yun Ling seeks to engage Aritomo to create a garden in memory of her sister, who died in the camp. Aritomo refuses but agrees to accept Yun Ling as his apprentice "until the monsoon comes." Then she can design a garden for herself. As the months pass, Yun Ling finds herself intimately drawn to the gardener and his art, while all around them a communist guerilla war rages. But the Garden of Evening Mists remains a place of mystery. Who is Aritomo and how did he come to leave Japan? And is the real story of how Yun Ling managed to survive the war perhaps the darkest secret of all?

Faith Bowers (07/09/19): I read The Gift of Rain just after I was 50% through listening to the Garden of Evening Mists. They are both about The Japanese aggression in WW2 in Malaya.

The Gift of Rain is from a point of view of a young man and Garden of Evening Mists is from the point of view of a woman mostly after the War because she was interred during the war. They both survive Japanese teachers which makes their life challenging but that is the choices they made. The books are beautifully written , share a WW2 history one does not read about and teaches us the art of Japanese gardens and a form of Karate.

The main characters both have much courage and a heightened life during the times shared with their Japanese teachers. Once their teachers are gone, their lives are less vibrant. Their stories during the war are brutally descriptive. You can read them both as they are different stories with the same backdrop of a beautiful part of the world.
Rating: ***

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