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Monday, 7 February 2011
A Clash Of Innocents
by Sue Guiney
I can’t praise this book highly enough. I absolutely loved it.
My knowledge of Cambodia was limited when I started to read ‘A Clash Of Innocents’; I was aware of some of its dark history in the time of the Khmer Rouge and the Killing Fields but only in a very sketchy way. Reading ‘A Clash Of Innocents’ really brought the country alive for me. It is set in 2007 and so is very much an evocation of present-day Cambodia, but there is enough sensitively placed historical detail to show how the past is still impacting on the present.
Delicately placed within this richly detailed setting is the story of an American woman, Deborah, who has made her life in Cambodia in an attempt to escape demons from another place and another time. She is joined at the orphanage she runs by a younger American woman Amanda who, if anything, is running from even darker demons.
When I finished reading this book I was left feeling that I was really going to miss the characters. They are all so beautifully drawn and real that I genuinely felt like I was saying goodbye to friends. From Amanda and Deborah, with their complex relationship and connections, to the very individual young Cambodian residents of the orphanage to the dazzling Australian Kyle, all are achingly real and deeply engaging.
This novel has everything – history, romance, tragedy, mystery. The plot has multiple layers and strands and feels perfectly balanced. At the close of the story Sue Guiney resists the temptation to tie all the ends up too tightly. There are questions left unanswered, but overall a very satisfying ending.
Please add this book to your wish list. It is wonderful.
Thanks to Sue Guiney for providing a review copy of the book.
It is published by Ward Wood and you can buy a copy here.
Reviewed by Helen M Hunt