‘From the Irish Times bestselling author of The Lighthouse Keeper’s
Daughter comes an unforgettable story of courage and friendship, and the life-changing bonds formed between a young girl and her teacher duringWW2.
Inspired by true events, The Bird in The Bamboo Cage will be published as we mark the 75th anniversary of Japan’s surrender in WW2, and the liberation of Japanese internment camps in China.’
Earlier this month I was thrilled to bring you all my early review of the compelling and very emotive The Bird in The Bamboo Cage by Hazel Gaynor where I said that…..
The Bird in the Bamboo Cage is a story of anguish and pain, of sadness and despair, of endurance, of resilience and of hope. It is a very affecting read recounting a remarkable and shocking period of history. Hazel Gaynor writes historical fiction that completely captures the readers imagination, really guaranteeing that The Bird in the Bamboo Cage will be another sure-fire bestseller on release.
(Read my FULL review HERE )
Today I am really excited to bring you all a wonderful and EXCLUSIVE EXTRACT (which gives you a sneak preview of this incredible tale) and I also have some VERY exciting news for IRISH readers!!!
EARLY RELEASE DATE of THE BIRD IN THE BAMBOO CAGE
🎉 AUGUST 6TH 2020 🎉
(UK/NZ/AUS ~ August 20th)
“We didn’t talk about it afterwards.
Not to loved ones, or to neighbours who stared at us from across the street, curious to know more about these lost children, returned from the war in China like ghosts come back from the dead.
Eventually everyone stopped staring and wondering
WE WERE FORGOTTEN.
BUT WE DIDN’T FORGET“
[ About the Book ]
China, December 1941.
Having left an unhappy life in England for a teaching post at a missionary school in northern China, Elspeth Kent is now anxious to return home to help the war effort. But as she prepares to leave China, a terrible twist of fate determines a different path for Elspeth, and those in her charge.
Ten-year-old Nancy Plummer has always felt safe at Chefoo School, protected by her British status. But when Japan declares war on Britain and America, Japanese forces take control of the school and the security and comforts Nancy and her friends are used to are replaced by privation, uncertainty and fear. Now the enemy, and separated from their parents, the children look to their teachers – to Miss Kent and her new Girl Guide patrol especially – to provide a sense of unity and safety.
Faced with the relentless challenges of oppression, the school community must rely on their courage, faith and friendships as they pray for liberation – but worse is to come when they are sent to a distant internment camp where even greater uncertainty and danger await . . .
I rose before dawn, my sleep disturbed by the prospect of the difficult conversations the morning would bring, and by Japanese soldiers roaring past the school gates in their noisy trucks until the small hours. While I knew they posed no threat to a western missionary school, I didn’t care to be so close to other people’s disputes, especially when it kept me awake half the night and left unsightly bags under my eyes.
I washed and dressed and made my bed, hospital corners precisely tucked in, the eiderdown smoothed of any unsightly creases. A cursory glance in the mirror left me wishing I could remove the lines from my face as easily. I missed the Elspeth Kent I used to see in the reflection; the carefree young thing who’d smiled for a week when Harry Evans asked her to dance. I hoped I might still find some scraps of her in England. Stitch her back together. Make Do and Mend. After all, wasn’t that what the Ministry encouraged?
The decades-old floorboards creaked and cracked beneath my shoes as I made my way along the corridor and downstairs, past trophy cabinets and the many proud moments of the school’s history. Once outside, I took a moment to glance toward the waters of the bay and then hurried on across the courtyard, beneath the branches of the plum trees, to the old stone chapel. My footsteps echoed off the flagstones as I walked to the altar and bent my head in prayer before settling into a pew. I sat in silent thought, remembering the wedding day that had been cruelly taken from me, and the other I’d walked away from. I was six thousand miles away from home, and still they haunted me: the man I should have married, and the man who had nearly taken his place. Ghosts now, both of them.
Pushing my memories aside, I took my letter of resignation from my pocket. I’d agonized over the words for so long they were imprinted on my mind. It is with much difficulty, and after a great deal of personal anguish and reflection, that I must inform you of my intention to leave my position at Chefoo School and return to my family in England. . . For weeks it had idled among the pages of my Girl Guide Handbook. I would give it to the principal of the Girls’ School after assembly that morning, and confirm my intention to return to England on the next available steamer from Shanghai. There was no reason to delay further, although the prospect of telling Minnie Butterworth – my dearest friend on the teaching staff –wasn’t quite so straightforward. Calling off a wedding and travelling halfway around the world had been easy in comparison.
I sat in the chapel until the cold got the better of my faith, and made my way outside to discover a soft blanket of snow had fallen. It was a perfect winter morning, still and calm. I stood for a moment beneath the arched lintel of the chapel doorway, admiring the quiet beauty and the deliciously plump flakes. Across the courtyard, Shu Lan, was already busy with her day’s work. She paused to listen to the distant toll of the Buddhist temple bells. I listened too, imagining that they were saying goodbye. China was almost invisible beneath the western sensibilities of Chefoo School and its privileged offspring of missionaries and diplomats, so much so that I sometimes forgot I was in China at all. The temple bells and the snow-covered branches of the plum and gingko trees were a timely reminder of place, and that as the seasons moved on, so must I.
A smile laced the edge of my lips. Finally, I would set in motion the wheels that would lead me back home. But the heavy drone of an approaching aircraft interrupted the delicate silence, and saw my smile quickly fade.
Instinctively, I stepped back inside the chapel doorway and tipped my face skywards, shielding my eyes against the swirling snow. I brushed a stray curl from my cheek as I watched the aircraft pass directly overhead. I stared up at the distinctive red circles painted onto the wingtips, and tracked a stream of papers that tumbled from the rear of the craft before the pilot banked sharply over Chefoo harbour, and disappeared into the rose-tinted snow clouds.
When I was quite sure it had gone, I brushed snow from the bottom of my coat, and grabbed one of the papers as it fluttered toward me through the frigid air. I stood perfectly still as I read an English translation of the front page of a Japanese newspaper: We hereby declare War on the United States of America and the British Empire. The men and officers of Our Army and Navy shall do their utmost in prosecuting the war . . . I skimmed over the full declaration, my hand raised to my mouth in dread as I reached the signature, HIROHITO, and the distinctive chrysanthemum emblem of the Japanese Imperial Seal.
I leaned against the chapel wall to steady myself as the world seemed to tilt a little to one side.
It had happened then, just as we’d feared. Britain was at war with Japan.
I immediately made my way back to the school building, my footprints sinking deep in the snow as I scooped up as many
[ Biography ]
Hazel Gaynor is the acclaimed Irish Times, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of A Memory of Violets and The Girl Who Came Home – A Novel of the Titanic, for which she received the 2015 RNA Historical Novel of the Year award.
Her third novel, The Girl from The Savoy, was shortlisted for the 2016 Irish Book Awards Popular Fiction Book of the Year. In 2019, The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter was shortlisted for the Historical Writers’ Association Gold Crown Award and her most recent novel, Meet Me in Monaco (co-written by Heather Webb) was shortlisted at the RNA Historical Novel of the Year 2020.
She lives in Kildare with her husband and two children.
Website ~ www.hazelgaynor.com
Twitter ~ @HazelGaynor
Facebook ~ @hazelgaynorbooks