Where The Golden Oriole Sang
by Gael Harrison
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‘Where the Golden Oriole Sang’ is a novel set primarily on the rubber estates of Malaya in the 1950s, during the time of the Emergency, when the Chinese communists were fighting a brutal guerrilla war against the British and Malayan administration with the aim of bringing communism to Malaya.
It is the story of Anna, now a prosperous woman living in Edinburgh, who, in trying to make sense of the traumas of her childhood, travels to the highlands of Scotland in the hope that the contents of an old tin box may throw light on her mother’s untimely death when Anna was just two years old. Anna’s quest for the truth reveals unfolding layers of dark secrets, passion and murders that shrouded her developing years, and answers to questions that have burdened her since she was a child.
It is a book that tugs at the emotions while the reader is transported from rural villages of the Highlands of Scotland to the steamy jungles and rubber estates of a seldom seen Malaya. The story weaves around the characters of the beautiful, vibrant Eilidh, her intrepid husband Alex and the fiery Estelle, but it is through Anna the child that the reader discovers the repercussions of three fatal tragedies that dominate the narrative. Anna, as a grown woman, finally faces her nemesis in the Malay woman, Aminah, and at last is able to return to Malaysia after a prolonged exile.
When Anna again meets the characters that knew her as a child, the reader will share the pathos as she reflects on her odyssey and at last is able to come to terms with the tragedies of the past.