Marly Thalya Gallardo Thalya Gallardo itibaren 9300 Kraindorf, Avusturya
I read the whole story hoping something awesome would happen. It doesn't. Most of the time I was annoyed with the characters. I thought the style of writing was difficult to read.
Initially this novel begins with two stories. Those of Rajkumar the 11 year old poor orphan boy and Dolly the 10 year old maidservant of the Queen of Burma. Really good when with Rajkumar, following him from the British overthrow of the Burmese monarchy into the jungles of Burma where he begins to learn the teak trade under the tutelage of his Malayan mentor Saya John. Weaker when depicting the scenes with the royal family and their social fall in exile in India. And then it all goes wrong. Instead of concentrating on Burma and Rajkumar and Dolly and their life, it goes off on tangents, developing characters and then abandoning them as the author spreads the narrative across three countries , diverse subjects and 100 years. I wanted to know much more about the development of Rajkumar from illiterate to tough, savvy businessmen and Dolly's difficult integration into real life after her time spent in social isolation. And whilst these themes are touched on, just as it begins to get interesting, 20 years are swept away in a couple of pages and we are left with characters who are much changed, older and greyer but their personal deveopment has been lost. At times it reminded me of a bad Hollywood film where the same actors play characters over a long period and we are somehow expected to believe in them with the grey hair, the terrible wrinkled make up and the doddery walks. It is a shame, because some of the things he introduces are really interesting and perhaps worthy of separate novels, such as the development of political and nationalist consciousness within the Indian troops who form the bulk of the British Army in the East and a great many of whom in Malaya eventually mutiny and side with the Japanese in World War Two. However the author just seemed to always be inexorably drawn to throwing in unbelievably coincidental romantic meetings that smacked of Danielle Steel and other purveyors of bland chick lit. These liaisons are then used as a means to pull the narrative from country to country and through the 100 years that he depicts. I really enjoyed it in places but hated it in others and in the end I was just relieved I had finished it without chucking it across the room in frustration. The final scenes set in late 1990's Burma were the icing on the cake. I suppose he was bookending the novel by beginning with the last Queen of Burma and ending it with a scene with the current "queen" Aung San Suu Kyi - don't worry, that's not a spoiler, as her appearance is just daft and bizarre - but to me it just seemed to encapsulate what is wrong with this novel.