It was raining thick sheets of water. The sound was deafening as it hit the tiled roofs and slid heavily through the gutters into the ground. As I made my third cup of coffee that day, I was longing for a good book I could dig into, curl up in my favourite chair and lose myself in another world. It took me only a few minutes to find and download The White Amah on the Kindle and I was set…
The White Amah by Anne Massey weaves a tale around three women connected by a single mistake. Like a haunting melody that peaks and troughs, this book has some stunning writing without being trite. It will take you traipsing through the night life of Singapore, launch you into the deep rain forests of Borneo and scoop you up and put you down in the streets of London.
Tuff is a chartbusting pop singer with a dubious past. She has created a carefully contrived image around her persona and the public are ga-ga over her every move. But when confronted with some unpalatable truths from her past, Tuff loses her cool and makes one wrong move which will prove to be very costly for her.
Seventeen years earlier, a young Australian called Crystal Brooke finds herself abandoned in the big bad world in Singapore. Her dreams of becoming a pop star come crashing down when she finds that she is pregnant. There is no question about returning back to her family in Australia. Crystal knows that her father would never accept her. Frightened and alone, there is only one option – Crystal puts her baby up for adoption. The infant is adopted by an expat family in Malaysia. The couple engage an amah (nanny) to look after the baby, Mei-Li. Rubiah, the amah is herself a young girl and although she loves and cares for the baby, her sights are set on a good life. ‘Good life’ comes in the form of nightly visits from her employer who piles her with gifts and baubles –until the wife finds out. Then all hell breaks loose and the expat dumps Rubiah and flees the country with his wife. Rubiah is left holding a baby she doesn’t want. She realises that she is only a young girl herself and her dreams of a slick city life with all the riches will remain a distant dream if she has an infant in tow. So Rubiah takes the baby to her native village in a remote rain forest jungle in Borneo where she leaves Mei Li under the care of her parents and returns to the city to make a life for herself.
In the deep forests, Mei Li is brought up as a traditional Dayak tribal woman. She has no ambition except to lead a good peaceful life in the jungle she loves. But fate has other things in store for her and no one is more surprised than Mei Li at the turn of events which catapults her into an environment she has never dreamed of. She becomes the white amah.
Anne Massey’s book The White Amah plays on many different levels. It is like peeling off the petals from an exotic tightly curled bloom – the more you peel, the tighter are the curls beneath- enticing you to lift yet another layer. Beautiful prose, accompanied by a plot with surprising twists and turns, this book keeps you hooked to the very end. The White Amah shows how much Massey’s work has matured as a writer after the The Biocide Conspiracy which was her first novel.
The White Amah is a treat to read and I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a rich reading experience.
Purchase from http://www.amazon.com/White-Amah-Ann-Massey/dp/1456578065/ref=cm_cr-mr-title