You know, Lonely Planet contains more than recommendations of where to eat, shop and sleep. It also gives details on local authors (important for any bibliophile). So when reading up on Singapore, I came across Catherine Lim, a Malaysian born author who lives in Singapore. I loved Following the Wrong God Home, so I was pleased to find The Song of Silver Frond on clearance at Borders Wheelock Place, Singapore.
If you’ve read Following the Wrong God Home, you’ll notice that The Song of Silver Frond is actually very different. It looks at a post-WWII Singapore and there’s very little description of the place- Singapore could be any Asian country. This book focuses on the characters and their interaction rather than description of scenery or detail. In fact, you’ll be hard pressed to find references to today’s Singapore – the only one I noticed was a reference to Changi (the area, not the airport).
The Song of Silver Frond is of course, about Silver Frond, the oldest of three daughters living a poor village life. Silver Frond is an egg seller and playing with dolls made from paper and rag one day, she meets the Old One (or Venerable One). She amuses him because her dolls are telling the gossip-based story of him and his wife. He is instantly attracted to her and begins a courtship, which scandalises the village society (Different social classes! Different ages!) but Silver Frond becomes his wife.
Silver Frond tries to adapt to the life around her, but is fraught with difficulties, not knowing who to trust. She becomes an unwilling participant of things her husband will not accept…
I really enjoyed this story, having an interest in Singapore and Asian culture. But it was the last chapter that really made me gasp (where it is revealed that this is a true story).
8 out of 10.
Edit: For the person who said that all this review contained was ‘read the book’ and lacked detail of the characters, I’d like to know what part of the review said this. If you’re looking for information for a school report, may I suggest Wikipedia?