I am absolutely delighted to be one of the Book Bloggers opening the Blog Tour and to share my review for The Bird in the Bamboo Cage by Hazel Gaynor. It is due to be published on 20th August in the UK and there are links further down so you can pre-order a copy. If you are lucky enough to live in Ireland it was published on 6th 🙂
My huge thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my stunning copy of this amazing book. Let me show you what it is all about…
War imprisoned them,
friendship set them free.
China, 1941. With Japan’s declaration of war on the Allies, Elspeth Kent’s future changes forever. When soldiers take control of the missionary school where she teaches, comfortable security is replaced by rationing, uncertainty and fear.
Ten-year-old Nancy Plummer has always felt safe at Chefoo School. Now the enemy, separated indefinitely from anxious parents, the children must turn to their teachers – to Miss Kent and her new Girl Guide patrol especially – for help. But worse is to come when the pupils and teachers are sent to a distant internment camp. Unimaginable hardship, impossible choices and danger lie ahead.
Inspired by true events, this is the unforgettable story of the life-changing bonds formed between a young girl and her teacher, in a remote corner of a terrible war.
**The following purchase links are Amazon affiliate links**
This is an amazing book to read and one that opened my eyes to another aspect of WWII. The story of a group of Missionary School children living in China who were caught up in the war when Japan attacked Pearl Harbour.
The story is told predominantly in two voices, a schoolgirl calledNancy Plummer (Plum) and her teacher Elspeth Kent. Between them, they tell their story of their time in Chefoo Missionary School, a boarding school where children live while their parents are off doing missionary work, are diplomats or doing work in areas where it is not suitable for children to live.
Through Plum and Elspeth, I quickly learnt the routine of the school, children, teachers and local people who worked as servants. It sounded like a very idyllic life and in some ways quite privileged but with a sad side to it. Children had to come to terms with their parents work being more important.
Things soon change as Japan enters the war. Disruption soon follows for the school as soldiers take over. The resolve of the teaching staff to carry on as best as possible really stands out. Elspeth uses the motto of the Girl Guides/ Brownies to help the girls through this transition. The emphasis of taking daily tasks and challenges and turning them towards earning badges gives the girls something to work towards especially when the school is moved.
The school is then moved again, this time to an internment camp. Illness, appalling conditions, lack of food and medical supplies make this is very glum and dissolute place. Again the resolve of the teachers is admirable and again making the best of a bad situation comes in to play.
The story is one I read over a couple of days. It is a story that has a huge sadness around it but actually what comes through more than anything else is the feeling of hope, of friendship and of one day hopefully returning home to family.
The author has created amazing characters, I immediately adored the main characters of Plum, Mouse, Sprout, Elspeth, and Mrs T. There are several other characters that have very important roles in the story as they provide support to their friends. There are obviously going to be characters that I am not going to like and I have to say I liked how the author dealt with a truly horrid and awful one.
The author does characters and descriptions of setting so well. Research is obvious throughout the book and the whole story felt right. She does an amazing job of describing the awful conditions but in a way that mirrors the resolve of the staff to see the best in the conditions.
I adored this book and the way the author has woven a story around real-life events and true accounts. There is a wonderful list of books at the back of the book for further reading and also about how she was introduced to this story. It is interesting and well worth reading.
This is a fabulous read, it took me through a range of emotions and also left me with a feeling that was heartwarming. It is a story of how a group of people are thrust into unthought-of conditions and situations. How that group then supported each other where possible. A story based on true events that readers are historical fiction needs to add to the reading list. It is an amazing book and one I would absolutely recommend.
Hazel Gaynor is an award-winning, New York Times, USA Today,
and Irish Times, bestselling author of historical fiction, including
her debut THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME, for which she received
the 2015 RNA Historical Novel of the Year award. THE
LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER’S DAUGHTER was shortlisted for the 2019
HWA Gold Crown award. She is published in thirteen languages
and nineteen countries. Hazel is co-founder of creative writing
events, The Inspiration Project, and currently lives in Ireland with
her family, though originally from Yorkshire.
Check out the other stops on the Blog Tour…
Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx