The 2014 Booker prize-winning story is powerful, harrowing and a quite difficult read but a book that will stay with me for a long time.In the despair of a Japanese POW camp on the Burma Death Railway, surgeon Dorrigo Evans is haunted by his love affair with his uncle's young wife two years earlier. Struggling to save the men under his command from starvation, from cholera and from beatings, he receives a letter that will change his life forever. This is a story about the many forms of love and death, of war and truth, as one man comes of age, propsers, only to discover all that he has lost.
This was a book that I had on my radar for a couple of years but I kept putting it to the bottom of the pile as I knew it would be an emotional read and possibly quite challenging.
To be honest I was right on both accounts but the payoff was rewarding. This is a book that affects the reader on many levels, the writing is descriptive and real, the sense of time and place terrific and all the characters, even the minor ones are beautifully written. I had a face for every character in this book and they all felt so real. While I am aware this is a novel I am sure Flanagan must have based some of these characters on men that his father talked about during his time in the POW Camp. He doesn't disclose this in the book but I have to imagine he drew something from his fathers stories to create such real and well drawn characters.
This is a deep book and its the sort of book on finishing I would love to have had a discussion on with a book group. Its certainly not going to be everyone's cup of tea as its harrowing in detail and the cruelty and misery of the camps is relentless and makes for very difficult reading but I only had to read it as these poor men had to endure it and the ones that "survived" seemed to have survived in name only as life for them was never the same.
A great educational read and a really well written book. Harrowing reading but a book that deserves the awards it has received.