Sometimes, when a book ends, you want nothing more than the opportunity to look the author square in the eye and say
“what…… the fuck”.
Usually when this feeling strikes me, I immediately vow to cut connections with a book, much like one must do when a lover has ripped your heart to shreds. I vow to myself to not think about the thing which broke my heart, not to fantasize about how things could have ended differently. Mostly, after this happens, I try not to eat a double fudge brownie, topped with chocolate ice cream and chocolate sauce….. smothered in chocolate chips.
Sarah Jio, you have broken my heart, and to make matters worse, I can not stop thinking about your stupid, fabulous, wonderful, romantic novel “The Bungalow”.
“The Bungalow” is a novel which, on the surface, seems innocent, light, harmless. Yes, you are damned right I judged this book by it’s cover; a cover which depicts a sunny, warm, tropical scene. I judged the depiction of a bright yellow hibiscus flower to mean happiness. I, dear readers, was dead wrong.
This book tells the story of a young nurse named Anne who arrives on the island of Bora-Bora near the end of World War II. Anne has left Seattle to have one last adventure before she settles down and marries a man she has known since childhood.
Unexpectedly, Anne strikes up a friendship with a soldier named Westry. The pair discover a dilapidated bungalow hidden just off the beach behind bushes filled with bright yellow hibiscus.
Anne and Westry create their own world in this bungalow, and eventually, their relationship turns into something more. From the get-go, the conversation between Anne and Westry sparkles and jumps from the page. The chemistry between these two is tangible, as is their connection.
Just as their love seems to be turning into true, infallible, life altering love, the pair witness a horrible crime taking place on the sand in front of the bungalow. A rift has been created between Anne and Westry through witnessing this trauma, a rift which through various circumstances, Anne comes to believe is insurmountable.
After you have finished this book, it is much like looking back on your first love…. when your heart was initially broken, you couldn’t believe it could get better, but with time (in this case, the last few pages of the novel), things do become much better. You find yourself looking back with fondness instead of sadness.
Though this book is a bit of an emotional trial, it is a very worthy read. An extraordinary, magnificent love story which will stay with you long after you have finished the last page.
In conclusion, I direct the following words to the author, said best by Kat Stratford (Julia Stiles) from “10 Things I Hate About You”:
I hate it when you make me laugh,
even worse when you make me cry.
But mostly I hate the way I don’t hate you,
not even close…
not even a little bit…
not even at all.
Synopsis below pasted from chapters.indigo.ca:
“A sweeping World War II saga of thwarted love, murder, and a long-lost painting. In the summer of 1942, twenty-one-year-old Anne Calloway, newly engaged, sets off to serve in the Army Nurse Corps on the Pacific island of Bora-Bora. More exhilarated by the adventure of a lifetime than she ever was by her predictable fiancé, she is drawn to a mysterious soldier named Westry, and their friendship soon blossoms into hues as deep as the hibiscus flowers native to the island. Under the thatched roof of an abandoned beach bungalow, the two share a private world-until they witness a gruesome crime, Westry is suddenly redeployed, and the idyll vanishes into the winds of war. A timeless story of enduring passion from the author of Blackberry Winter and The Violets of March, The Bungalow chronicles Anne’s determination to discover the truth about the twin losses-of life, and of love-that have haunted her for seventy years.”