This title is part of Robert Yeo’s First Editions, his preloved titles.
In People of the Pear Tree Rex Shelly weaves two love stories of Eurasians in the torrid, tropical heat against the background of Japanese-occupied Singapore and Malaya during World War II, spicing his narrative with humour, intrigue, and the ring of guerrilla gunshots on the fringes of the Malayan jungle.
He writes with a straightforward honesty of down-to-earth people with snappy dialogue and a pace that races one through the pages in tense anticipation.
People of the Pear Tree is about people reacting to the disruptions and the brutality of war, clinging to traditions, family ties, finding outlets of love and passionate sex as starvation, malaria, dysentery, torture and death stalk them; of courage in battle and of gentle tenderness, sentimentality, and racial prejudices.
The novel not only exposes the conflicts between the guerrillas the jungles but also the power struggles within the Japanese military machine.
The Eurasians of The Shrimp People are there: Anna Perera with her beautiful soft-brown eyes; Tessie, voluptuous. So are the Chinese: Keh, the sly one; Mrs Foo, the Hainanese, ambitious and sexually aflame, who gets her way; Ah Lan, the slim coquettish Cantonese girl. The glib Indian double-agent. Major Takanashi of the Imperial Japanese Army. Major Pearson of Force 136.
A bubbling pot of a strange mixture; an intricate plot of mind against mind with explosions of emotion and gruesome killings, The Shrimp People was described as a curry. People of the Pear Tree is a curry on the boil.
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