REVIEW by Suzy Ceulan Hughes

NWR Issue 101

The Rice Paper Diaries

by Francesca Rhydderch

Set partly in 1940s Hong Kong and the Japanese Stanley Internment Camp, Francesca Rhydderch’s debut novel tells the story of a young Welsh woman from New Quay who emigrates to Hong Kong with her husband Tommy, a sea captain in the customs service. The Rice Paper Diaries is a novel of love and betrayal, but it is also a study of alienation, displacement and the importance of home.

Leaving her beloved older sister Nannon behind her in New Quay, Elsa finds herself an alien among aliens, the only Welsh woman in an expat community which is far too busy drinking champagne at the Peninsula Hotel and gambling on the horses at the Jockey Club to heed the warnings of approaching war. When Elsa tells her new Hong Kong friends about the Welsh tradition of the Mari Lwyd, she quickly realises that the English ex-pat sophisticates are laughing at her, not with her...

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previous review: Cosmic Latte
next review: David Jones in the Great War


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