Laura, a successful fashion journalist based in London, finds herself uprooted from the world she knows and loves after she moves with her husband and two small children to a dilapidated bungalow in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Behind the house is an overgrown garden inhabited by monkeys, snakes and monitor lizards. A swimming pool sits in the shade of a beautiful jacaranda tree.
Mariel, the Filipina maid Laura hires, hasn’t seen her own children for nearly ten years. She’s on a mission to escape her abusive past and finally marry the man she loves despite an ongoing battle against prejudice.
Laura’s journey is one of self-discovery, Mariel’s is a fight for a better life.
Alexandra Carey lived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with her family from 2006 to 2013 where she worked as a volunteer for the UNHCR and wrote two children’s books, Ted Ted and the Dhobi Ghats and Ted Ted, Trouble in Tokyo. Since returning to England, she has lived by the River Deben in Suffolk and has studied creative writing. The Light That Bends Round Corners is her first novel.
Sonia Francis (Guest Review) - 12 Nov, 2023
The setting-Malaysia. Early
21st century . Two women from totally different culture and class lives merge. One is an expatriate from the Philippines working as a maid for one who is a fashion journalist from London . She is in Malaysia because of her husband’s job . She feels that nothing is working
Our for her in this strange tropical land where she has to worry about snakes, monkeys and stifling heat and nothing to
fill her days . The maid has not seen her family in the Philippines for at least 10 years . According to her immigration
lawyer she must stay away from the abusive husband there for that time
before getting a divorce. In the meantime she is hoping that she and Vijay will get married and move back to the Philippines and live happily ever after .
It is not that easy for Mariel, the maid . At times she thinks “her life is not a life of happiness “. Laura from London realizes her life is one of self discovery and Mariel is a fight for a better life.
I loved how the author draws on the immigrant experience; the working and sending money home to families, the expectations of the families without any concern as to how difficult it is in a foreign land, the abuse of migrants by employers, the visa rules.This will be all repeatable by any immigrant- the stories are the same, the names are just different. Albeit, there is empathy for what immigrants must go through . There is class, race, religion and culture coming to a head in this page turner . There is political upheaval of the Myanamar refugees in Malaysia and the harrowing journey they took to get there . If you love a good immigrant experience, a place to
call home story, cultural clashes, - this is for you . There are laugh out loud moments in this novel more than crying
ones and who does not need that .?
In the end after highs and low moments, Mariel returns to the Philippines to
finalize her divorce papers in order to marry Vijay, but she was duped about that . Some years later the husband is dead, she marries Vijay, goes back to England with that family and realizes that home is now a feeling: “ As the joy of loving Vijay and growing old with him had strengthened, the sorrow of having to leave her family had passed. - it had faded gradually with a lingering glimmer, like the light at the end of an English summer’s day “.
A beautiful atmospheric novel and story telling that is hypnotic along with
round characters is why I unequivocally recommend this novel .