WORD SEARCH with Adair Jones

Review: The Monsoon Bride by Michelle Aung Thin

Posted in adultery, review by Adair Jones on October 10, 2011


Winsome, as lovely as her name implies, is newly married to Desmond, an ambitious civil servant.  Both are half-castes and, in the Burma of the 1930s, their position is awkward, neither accepted by the British ruling class nor by the oppressed and simmering Burmese. Raised in a convent and chosen by Desmond in order to assist his career, Winsome appears to be the perfect bride.  Then, life in Rangoon, with its mix of cultures, strange sights, and opportunities, transforms her from a malleable convent girl into a sensual woman.  Though he disapproves, Desmond tolerates Winsome’s job in the studio of a wealthy Burmese photographer.  The mysterious Daw Sein is a formidable woman resentful of the English and supportive of the rising native rebellion. However, when Winsome falls for Desmond’s boss, an English doctor who prides himself on his open-minded views, Desmond finds himself powerless in an intolerable situation.

Michelle Aung Thin sets up The Monsoon Bride with skill and insight.   The relationship between Winsome and the Englishman unfolds as expected: for Winsome, it’s true love; for Jonathan, just too complicated.  Desmond merely waits for the end.  However, the fate of these characters distracts from the more interesting issue: How will the rebellion unfold?  And when?  Rather than being helplessly entangled in a racially fuelled political struggle, Winsome and her lover exist alongside it.  The heat, the incessant rain, the exotic setting evoked so beautifully all fall away to reveal nothing but a humdrum love triangle.

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The Monsoon Bride     

Michelle Aung Thin    

Text Publishing    

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Review first published in The Courier-Mail in September 2011. 

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