The Gift Of Rain

It's not very often that my husband buys me a present – he forgot my birthday completely a couple of years ago and managed to get away with it this year because I was in Australia at the time.

However, on the rare occasions when he does buy me something, he normally does a pretty good job at choosing. Especially when it comes to books.

So while I was more than a bit surprised when he came home out of the blue the other day with The Gift Of Rain , I wasn't surprised at how much I've enjoyed it.

The book is set on the island of Penang (in what is now Malaysia) at the outbreak of World War II – the eve of the brutal Japanese occupation of that country.

It is the story of many things, but at its essence is Phillip Hutton, a half-Chinese, half-English boy, and his conflicting loyalties towards Hayato Endo, his enigmatic (Japanese) martial arts teacher.

It is also a beautifully written and wonderfully evocative book which anyone can enjoy, although it did have an extra resonance for me because I lived in Asia for five years before I moved here.

Like The Kite Runner, it's a debut novel and I'm already looking forward to Tan Twan Eng's follow-up book.

Hopefully, my husband will get the hint...