Welcome, Guest! Why not create a free forum account today and join in with the world's friendliest bunch of Kindle enthusiasts

Bookclub: The discussion of The Gift of Rain

Thread Rating:
  • 0 Votes - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 
Offline Susanne Reading The Rose Petal Beach by Dorothy Koomson
01 Aug 2011, 06:45 AM | Post: #1

Fountain of Wisdom
********

Posts: 5,024
Joined: Aug 2010

Thanked 5 times

What I Read

Bookclub: The discussion of The Gift of Rain

The discussion of The Gift of Rain is now open.
A book is like a garden carried in the pocket. ~Chinese Proverb
Offline Notoriety Reading Five Days in May by Andrew Adonis
01 Aug 2011, 07:00 AM | Post: #2

Posting Freak
******

Posts: 643
Joined: May 2011

Thanked 2 times

What I Read

RE: Bookclub: The discussion of The Gift of Rain

Well, at long last....! Thanks for starting us off so promptly Susanne.

And huge thanks for whoever it was recommended this remarkable book. Clapping hands I could say much but just for now but just that I can't remember when a book left me with such strong feelings and so many thoughts and questions, and not all positive. I've never read a book where the central relationship was both so beguiling and so shocking. But the whole book inevitably drew me in with its quality of writing about both a place and a moment in history I knew nothing about.

I look forward to what I think will be a stimulating discussion here!

Tony
Offline john Reading Riotous Assembly by Tom Sharpe
01 Aug 2011, 07:07 AM | Post: #3

One happy kindler
*****

Posts: 107
Joined: Dec 2010

Thanked 0 times

What I Read

RE: Bookclub: The discussion of The Gift of Rain

I read The Gift of Rain and I have to say I found it one of the best books I have ever read. I am not normally affected by a story in fact I think it has only happened to me once before and that was a film - The English Patient. The Gift of Rain however, certainly left me thinking. What a superbly written story this is. It must have been hell for the people living in those times and I felt this book bought all of that to life without being too over the top. I am extremely pleased that I have read it and I would recommend this book to anyone.
If you can dream it you can do it...Walt Disney Kindle Smile
Offline Susanne Reading The Rose Petal Beach by Dorothy Koomson
01 Aug 2011, 08:02 AM | Post: #4

Fountain of Wisdom
********

Posts: 5,024
Joined: Aug 2010

Thanked 5 times

What I Read

RE: Bookclub: The discussion of The Gift of Rain

I read this amazing book a little while ago and did a brief review of it, not knowing then that it would eventually be chosen as the bookclub book. Like everyone else, the book has stayed with me and I re-read parts of it yesterday. It is a very powerful story, and left me pondering the morality of the choice Philip makes. Was he a naive, arrogant young boy or did he really understand from the start what he was doing?

The writing is superb. An amazing, mesmerising debut novel. My favourite book of...maybe all the books I have read!

I will leave it brief for now, as I suspect this discussion will carry on for quite some time.
A book is like a garden carried in the pocket. ~Chinese Proverb
Offline Kelvedon Lady Reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett
01 Aug 2011, 10:23 AM | Post: #5

Member
***

Posts: 60
Joined: Dec 2010

Thanked 0 times

What I Read

RE: Bookclub: The discussion of The Gift of Rain

Can only agree with the other postings. A wonderful book telling a "new" story - ie not an aga saga or similar - which seems all that is on offer apart from crime novels these days!! (great oversimplification but you know what I mean!!)

The writing was superb - but not so complex that it was hard to read and enjoy. The characters were "complete" - even the minor ones and the storyline compelling!

More like this one please!!!!

Kelvedon Lady
I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library
Offline sujay Reading The Glass Guardian by Linda Gillard
01 Aug 2011, 11:59 AM | Post: #6

Super Moderator
******

Posts: 3,703
Joined: Mar 2011

Thanked 129 times

What I Read

RE: Bookclub: The discussion of The Gift of Rain

All I can say is thank goodness I clicked on the link when I noticed that Susanne was reading this book. I had never heard of it, but am so glad that I found it. Normally I would never have bothered with a book like this, but it just goes to prove that you should never judge a book by its cover. Once I has started, I knew by page two that I was being drawn right into the story, and I knew that I was going to suggest it as a book club read. The narrative is in my mind phenomenal, I can't think of words to describe it. From the beginning to the end it sent shivers up and down my spine. I have highlighted so many of the passages from the book, that I found so amazingly written, that my clippings folder has more from this book than all of my others put together.

As Susanne said I think this is my all time number one favourite book ever. It has left me with so many thoughts lingering in my mind about how difficult life was in those horrible times, and a lot of unanswered questions as well. I can't wait to see if there is going to be a sequel, or another book written on a different topic entirely, but I know for one, that I will be buying it as soon as it comes out, and for me that is very rare.
Only happy when I am immersed in a good Kindle book Thumbs Up
Offline Notoriety Reading Five Days in May by Andrew Adonis
01 Aug 2011, 12:20 PM | Post: #7

Posting Freak
******

Posts: 643
Joined: May 2011

Thanked 2 times

What I Read

RE: Bookclub: The discussion of The Gift of Rain

So many of us enjoyed this book immensely, but in case we get carried along with the positive posts let me ask some of the many difficult questions the book left me with. Just a few for now.

1. Were Phillip's apparently blase reactions to the the brutal deaths of his sister and his father and Endo's direct involvement in them credible?

2. Was Phillip's reconciliation with his family part way through the book based on an ability to relate to them with a genuine and mature understanding of their own wishes and feelings. Or did he operate simply on a traditional notion of family duty, particularly that of protection, and project his ideas of what was best on to them?

3. Phillip's central relationships are with the strong men in his life, either catastrophically or heroically depending on your point of view. Does the early death of his mother and his later idealisation of her prevent him from not only relating to women but also from having a family of his own? His only legacy seems to be the two Japanese swords passed on to the Penang Historical Society. Phillip's sexuality is unclear to us but can he have a sexual relationship with an equal?

4. The book forces us to reflect on the justification of the choices Phillip makes (Can bad actions be done for good reasons?) but how much does the book question the nature of "choice" itself not just in traditional eastern terms of the cycle of rebirth and the "historical" dynamic between Phillip and Endo but also for us in the West?

Tony
Offline Susanne Reading The Rose Petal Beach by Dorothy Koomson
01 Aug 2011, 03:16 PM | Post: #8

Fountain of Wisdom
********

Posts: 5,024
Joined: Aug 2010

Thanked 5 times

What I Read

RE: Bookclub: The discussion of The Gift of Rain

http://www.tantwaneng.com/qanda.html

In case you haven't looked at Tan Twan Eng's website yet. He mentions that he was/is influenced by Kazuo Ishiguro - another very gifted writer. I think Tan Twan Eng is equally gifted - probably more so.

Tony - you pose several questions above that will need more thought, but a point on your question 3 about Philip's sexuality - I did wonder, - there were several instances where I thought that he probably did have a homosexual relationship with Endo-San, one when they spent the night together and also where he was at the house of Endo-San's sensei and he says something like "if Endo-San can have you, why shouldn't I" or words to that effect.

However, I then look at the overall deep bond between the two of them and think that maybe their strong feelings for each other are because of their lives being so intertwined, both in the present and the past, that it is in fact the most beautiful and pure friendship and sex doesn't come into it.
A book is like a garden carried in the pocket. ~Chinese Proverb
Offline Notoriety Reading Five Days in May by Andrew Adonis
01 Aug 2011, 05:35 PM | Post: #9

Posting Freak
******

Posts: 643
Joined: May 2011

Thanked 2 times

What I Read

RE: Bookclub: The discussion of The Gift of Rain

Yes Susanne it is the nature of the relationship between Phillip and Endo that is at the heart of the book. It was clearly at least briefly sexual but we are left to guess whether it was more permanently so. But you are right to raise the question of was it a "beautiful and pure friendship"? I'm not so sure that it was but Phillip certainly wanted to see it that way and wants us to as well. He does accept on that very night that their relationship had gone beyond that which should be between sensei and pupil. Much later he realises that Endo has used all the information he gave him about Penang and Malaya to plan the Japanese invasion even down to the detail of the best weather conditions. Yet he appears to forgive him although he realises he has been desperately exploited.

My own view is that the relationship between the two men is in part flawed and limited but satisfying within the tight constraints of the military culture of aikijutsu . So many times neither need to speak because the rigidity of the code means that they must act and think in unison. Of such stuff are the lives of men often made. Endo believes that they are inexorably thrown together to repeat the narrative of their prior lives but we can see them as struggling with the inner constraints of belief and duty. And Endo as the master, the sensei, is the one to train, lead and dare I say control, knowing Phillip's confused and disconnected life? Yet Phillip, by being drawn into an inescapable orbit around the much older Endo derives his strength from him, becoming a confdent adult, more capable of relating to his family and ultimately of becoming a hero - at least to some. What would he have been without Endo?

All of which makes this a much more interesting book rather than less. I'm interested in hearing more of a woman's viewpoint of Phillip and Endo's relationship. Is Endo a strong male figure to be admired? What do you think of his relationships with women? Does he allow himself to become corrupted by the Japanese war machine? Does Phillip's Chinese grandfather offer a a model of greater strength in his acceptance of of his own mistake in cutting off his relationship with his daughter, Phillip's mother. Does that offer a stronger and more enriching connection with Phillip than Endo's militarism?

Tony
Offline Susanne Reading The Rose Petal Beach by Dorothy Koomson
01 Aug 2011, 05:50 PM | Post: #10

Fountain of Wisdom
********

Posts: 5,024
Joined: Aug 2010

Thanked 5 times

What I Read

RE: Bookclub: The discussion of The Gift of Rain

And very briefly for now (as my dinner is nearly ready!), is Philip's perspective of their relationship - that it is beyond mere relationships and goes far deeper - tainted by Endo-San's older and mature (and scheming) mind where he persuades Philip that they have a bond that goes beyond the norm? Did Endo-San "persuade" Philip that what they had was part of the cycle of life? There is no doubt Endo-San used Philip in his goal, but did he cold-heartedly set out to do so or did he truly believe that this was the chosen path?

I think I'm going to have to read the book again!
A book is like a garden carried in the pocket. ~Chinese Proverb

Currently Reading:The Rose Petal Beach by Dorothy Koomson Last Book I Read:The Summer Son by Craig Lancaster Favourite Genres:contemporary fiction, literary fiction, crime/thriller,Favourite eBooks:
See my recommendations
Currently Reading:Five Days in May by Andrew Adonis Last Book I Read:The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes Favourite Genres:Classics, politics, foreign language, "lit fic", funFavourite eBooks:
See my recommendations
Currently Reading:Riotous Assembly by Tom Sharpe Last Book I Read:The Wilt Inheritance by Tom Sharpe Favourite Genres:History, thrillers, mysteries. I love all booksFavourite eBooks:
See my recommendations
Currently Reading:The Help by Kathryn Stockett Last Book I Read:Shardlake series by C J Sansom Favourite Genres:contemporary fiction
Currently Reading:The Glass Guardian by Linda Gillard Last Book I Read:To the Grave by Steve Robinson Favourite Genres:I don't mind, as long as it's good!Favourite eBooks:
See my recommendations