This third book in Ann Bennett’s Bamboo Trilogy complements the earlier books but can be read on its own. It tells the story of Sirinya, a young Thai girl who, with her family, helped some of the prisoners building the Burma railway during the Second World War. We meet Sirinya when she returns to Thailand in the 1970s after the death of her English husband. There had been dreadful consequences following from the family’s kind actions during wartime and now Sirinya seeks the person responsible for their betrayal.
The awful experiences of the British servicemen and the terrifying bravery of those involved in the Thai underground movement do not make easy reading but I had no idea that local aid had been given and the way they managed to deceive the Japanese soldiers is intriguing. Sirinya’s family are convincingly portrayed and I desperately hoped for a happy outcome.
The contrasting scenery in the countryside, in the rain forest and in Bangkok are vividly described and Sirinya’s feelings of love, despair and acceptance reflect events realistically. Other characters such as her determined, strong mother, Kitima, the quiet, reserved soldier, Johnny and the gentle, supportive Kasem flesh out this unusual tale with people I could imagine and would like to meet. A very thought-provoking novel which is well worth reading.
My review of Bamboo Island Book Two in the trilogy can be read here