Bamboo Heart Blog Tour

Saturday 1 April 2017

Bamboo Heart
Ann Bennett
Genre(s): Adult, Historical Fiction
Published: September 1st 2014
Pages: 352
Rating: 4 stars

Thailand, 1943: Thomas Ellis is a prisoner-of-war on the Death Railway. In stifling heat he endures endless days of clearing jungle, breaking stone and lugging wood. London, 1986: Laura Ellis, a successful City lawyer, travels to Asia to retrace her father' past and discover the truths he has refused to tell her including how he got his Bamboo Heart. Heart-wrenching history plus a daughter's journey of discovery about her father and herself.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review as part of a blog tour. This in no way influenced my thoughts.

Despite being a fan of historical fiction, I can't say that I'm big on anything to do with the World Wars. Perhaps due to studying them for years at GCSE and A-Level, I just don't reach for fiction that surrounds them. That changed, however, when I learnt about the Bamboo trilogy which centres around WWII Asia - something I know nothing about thanks to school curriculum focusing solely on Britain.

Straight away when I picked this up my favourite parts were those set in 1943 following Tom in the POW camp. Needless to say I was surprised, but they were so interesting and informative without being boring or too horrific. Yes, things were described in detail and we got quite a good idea of the tortures those poor men had to suffer, but I personally found it to be more educational than off-putting. It was honest, but it wasn't overly graphic.

Unfortunately, I can't say the same for Laura's chapters in the first third of the book. I found her to be quite weak willed and actually rather dumb and insensitive when it came to her dad's past. Of course he wouldn't want to relive those moments so why on Earth would she think to pressure him?! And after a hospitalization no less! I also found it really hard to believe that - as a grown woman with a father who was in the war - she had no idea about what went on in the POW camps. Luke was by far the worst character in these chapters (and the book as a whole). He was manipulative and a complete asshole to Laura and what she was going through.

Thankfully, when you hit the 200s things take a turn as Laura travels to Thailand. The scenes from the 40s are still just as good, but those in the 80s start picking up. Laura comes to her senses regarding Luke and also starts unraveling the mystery of her dad's past.

I also lent this to my nan - who was born in 1939, the daughter of someone who served in the war and spent time as a prisoner, and also an avid history fan. Needless to say she knows some stuff about WWII, so it was interesting to hear her thoughts seeing as they come from such a different perspective to mine. She said that she found this to be difficult to read at times because it hit so close to home, but that Bennett knows how to tell a story and keep you interested, and for the most part I agree with her.

Given it's subject matter this is a really easy read that is, dare I say it, fun. It's quick to get through and doesn't require much prior knowledge of World War II to understand or enjoy. It will grip you from the first page and you'll want to know all about Tom, Laura, and their respective experiences in Thailand.

Ann Bennett 
Ann Bennett was born and raised in a small village in Northamptonshire, UK. She read Law at Cambridge and qualified and practised as a solicitor. During a career break, to have children, she started to write. Her father had been a prisoner of war on the Thailand– Burma Railway and the idea for a Southeast Asian WWII trilogy came from researching his wartime experiences. The research took her back to Asia, a place she loves and has returned to many times. She lives in Surrey with her husband and three sons and works in London as a lawyer.

Ann and her work can be found at her website, blog, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon UK, Amazon US, and Goodreads

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