The title of this book hails from the East, it means ‘Pale Fellow’ and relates to the author’s blonde hair. His fascinating memoir begins as a child travelling with his parents over the seas to a new life in Hong Kong in the early 1950’s. What is particularly inspiring about Martin Booth‘s novel is the way he captures memories and flawlessly places them on the page as if you were experiencing it all with him. Sadly, Martin Booth, passed away shortly after completing the novel in 2004 – a fitting epitaph for a fantastic writer.
What a wonderful start to a novel. Immediately I was transported back in time to the heyday of steamers and long voyages to places that we can now reach within a few hours. I felt the bewilderment of his young childhood and the often sad relationship between his mother and father. It stemmed into a bitterness that will envelope and cloud him for the rest of his life. I doubt very much his mum had such a soft reign over him, but then I thought he was perhaps seeing the world they way she hoped to see it, if she had been married to his father. Having never been to Hong Kong, I was enthralled by his descriptive text and felt like I was there in the room with him. It would be interesting to see what I thought of the places he has been if I ever go there. 4/5
Great read. Fascinating insight into the parents’ marriage and life in Hong Kong through the eyes of the seven-year old son. 4/5
A great read and lovely for a gift if you know anyone who has lived in Hong Kong. 3.5/5
My own choice so I’m biased but it is a terrific read and it makes me sorry not to have seen old Hong Kong. My only disappointment is that we’ll never know how his relationship with his father worked out as they both grew older. 4.5/5