Sunday, April 1, 2012
Book Review of The White Pearl by Kate Furnivall
Author: Kate Furnivall
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Type of book: 1941-1942, World War II, Malaysia, boats, twins, affair, murders, revenge, secrets, Japan
Year it was published: 2012
Malaya, 1941. Connie Thornton [her last name in the novel is Hadley]. plays her role as a dutiful wife and mother without complaint. She is among the fortunate after all-the British rubber plantation owners reaping the benefits of the colonial life. But Connie feels as though she is oppressed, crippled by boredom, sweltering heat, a loveless marriage. . .
Then, in December, the Japanese invade. Connie and her family flee, sailing south on their yacht toward Singapore, where the British are certain to stand firm against the Japanese. En route, in the company of friends, they learn that Singapore is already under siege. Tensions mount, tempers flare, and the yacht's inhabitants are driven by fear.
Increasingly desperate and short of food, they are taken over by a pirate craft and its Malayan crew making their perilous way from island to island. When a fighter plane crashes into the sea, they rescue its Japanese pilot. For Connie, that's when everything changes. In the suffocating confines of the boat with her life upended, Connie discovers a new kind of freedom and a new, dangerous, exhilarating love.
The characters are much different than the one in Lydia Saga. Connie is a little reminiscent of Lydia but she is kind hearted though, while Lydia was tough as nails. Connie's husband Nigel is oblivious and often calls Connie "old thing". He is also extremely dutiful. Maya and Razak, although they got screen time, but we only get to know Maya and Razak barely. Kitty and Madoc seem entirely pointless. The captain of White Pearl, Fitzpayne, I couldn't connect with him nor could I like him.
Mostly Connie struggled to escape and survive. There is emotion and of Connie finding out things she wished she'd never have found out, I didn't learn anything from the novel.
Despite the two star rating, the author does a good job of guiding the audience through Malaya and the daily life as well as what happened when World War II arrived and the beliefs experienced by the British at being the cream of the crop. She also guides the reader when the characters escape to the boat in search of a place where the Japanese won't strike at them. Also, please don't believe the summary. When the Japanese pilot gets rescued, I don't see Connie changing with his arrival. She begins to change slightly prior to his arrival, possibly when somebody died. This is also written in third person from multiple point of view, although with one exception of Madoc, all the narrators are women.
Author of 'The Russian Concubine' novel, about two White Russian refugees, a mother and daughter without money or papers in an International Settlement in China. (From Katefurnivall.blogspot.com)
I feel uncertain on whether or not to put Asian male/white female label because while there is an affair between Connie and Shohei Takehashi, she ends with up another man. I didn't appreciate the way the Japanese were portrayed, and couldn't like a single character in the novel. I'm glad that I got this book in library. While its evident that the author does a spectacular job writing and talking about the Malaya and the scenes of rain forest and English colonial life as well as bringing to light something that's rarely known or almost unheard of-perhaps I'm being biased-but the book has sort of a predictability and I found myself unable to relate to anyone.
2 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)