The Gift of Rain

The Gift of Rain

by Tan Twan Eng

Overview: The recipient of extraordinary acclaim from critics and the bookselling community, Tan Twan Eng's debut novel casts a powerful spell and has garnered comparisons to celebrated wartime storytellers Somerset Maugham and Graham Greene. Set during the tumult of World War II, on the lush Malayan island of Penang, The Gift of Rain tells a riveting and poignant tale about a young man caught in the tangle of wartime loyalties and deceits.

In 1939, sixteen-year-old Philip Hutton-the half-Chinese, half-English youngest child of the head of one of Penang's great trading families-feels alienated from both the Chinese and British communities. He at last discovers a sense of belonging in his unexpected friendship with Hayato Endo, a Japanese diplomat. Philip proudly shows his new friend around his adored island, and in return Endo teaches him about Japanese language and culture and trains him in the art and discipline of aikido. But such knowledge comes at a terrible price. When the Japanese savagely invade Malaya, Philip realizes that his mentor and sensei-to whom he owes absolute loyalty-is a Japanese spy. Young Philip has been an unwitting traitor, and must now work in secret to save as many lives as possible, even as his own family is brought to its knees.

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: ***

Dale Israel (08/17/17): Oh hurray, hurray! I finally found that rare exceptional book that made my heart sing! The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng takes place before and after the Japanese occupation of Malaya during WWII. Beautifully written, mesmerizing and enthralling, this book was about loyalty, friendship, complex family relationships and moral/ethical dilemmas. It was truly a page turner that will stay with me for years to come as did Pillars of the Earth. My only criticism is that there's a lot of grief and sadness, but then, that's to be expected during times of war. If you read only one book this year, make this the one. You won't be sorry.
Rating: *****

Elaine Marlin (01/29/16): This is a very well written book about a friendship between a sixteen year old boy of mixed Chinese/English heritage and his Japanese sensei pre WWll in a small island of Penang in Malaya. Eng's descriptions and depth make the scenes 'visible' to the reader. It is a long book, but it kept my interest throughout. I learned much about the Chinese and the British businessmen in a part of the world I knew nothing about. Do not be in a hurry to rush through this book, as you will lose the beauty of the beautiful descriptions of plants, people and locale.
Rating: *****

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