by Apple Gidley
1950s MALAYSIA WEDNESDAY
Congratulations, Apple Gidley, on Have You Eaten Rice Today, a carefully nuanced book that buried me in the lives of believable characters in a time and place I knew nothing about! Read my review below or on Goodreads.
I love books that transport me to somewhere I’ve never been, and this book did just that! From page one I felt wrapped in the heat, conflict and politics of 1950s Malaya, what the British called its collection of colonies on the Malay Peninsula.
The story revolves around restless Englishman Simon Frampton, a World War II vet who returns to Malay as a rubber planter. Due to his wartime experience, he winds up participating in a clandestine force of Malays, Chinese and Europeans trying to win against Communist forces that rule the jungle and terrorize the locals in an effort to take control. Simon’s difficult life starkly improves with the arrival of Dee Cunningham, an Australian Red Cross nurse.
The author does such a great job of depicting the characters, descriptions and history of a region I knew so little about. I felt the humidity of the jungle, the desperation of villagers stuck in the middle of conflict and the immediate attraction between Simon and the spirited Dee.
This is a fantastic story for those who love to learn about the world while reading about love that grows under the most difficult of circumstances.
For updates about Martha’s forthcoming memoir, Bliss Road (June 2023), historical novel, The Falcon, the Wolf and the Hummingbird (October 2023), or other books, news and giveaways, subscribe to MarthaEngber.com.