Originally Posted by orlok
For me it was definitely a book of two halves. At the outset, it felt like a story from Robbert Goddard (a good thing) - a story rooted in the past, where decisions made years and even decades ago has a impact on current events. However, once the narrative moved from Malaya to Australia, it felt like a different book altogether. It became a simple romance weaved around a faintly ridiculous story of the single-handed regeneration of a town by one person. Donald Trump eat your heart out. Fun, but not too believable. The casual racism was hard to take at times, though was no doubt an accurate reflection of the times. The thing that struck me in the Oz section was the intimate detail that the narrator Strachan knew about the unfolding events. I found myself brought out of the story as I contemplated how he could have known what was happening to that level of detail at such a far remove.
On balance, an enjoyable read which I liked more than I thought I would. The writing was simpler than I was expecting, but the story, particularly the early bits in Malasia during the war, were absorbing and at times fascinating.
Excellent review Orlok.
I guess I just didn't take the book that seriously. I read it for what it was, a story of trials, tribulations and triumph. I'm guessing that my having little expectations going into it, helped as far as my enjoying it. I really didn't care how or why Strachan knew what he knew, because it wasn't really about him. It was easy for me to push his voice into the back ground as "just" the narrator, when he wasn't directly involved in whatever was going on.