Cover Image: The Bird in the Bamboo Cage

The Bird in the Bamboo Cage

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Member Reviews

So touching, beautiful and utterly heartbreaking. I could not get enough of this even though I was sobbing reading this wow what a powerful novel that will stay with me for a very long time
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I’ve read quite a few of Hazel Gaynor’s books and have loved every one of them. She has a really lovely way of writing about ordinary people in extraordinary situations, showing how those people find such strength of character in order to cope. The relationships between her characters are always a highlight too.

This novel is no exception. Elspeth and Nancy are authentic and likeable narrators, showing clearly their fear and bewilderment as their lives change so dramatically. What works particularly well is their belief that this can’t possibly be happening, that someone will come and hp them. It really made me, as a reader, think about what how I would react in those circumstances.

I did find, however, the storyline around the Girl Guides a little overdone. I can appreciate that it was something to hold onto, for the girls and their teachers, and something they used to give life in the camp a sense of normality, but it did take over the narrative in places.
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I absolutely loved The Bird in the Bamboo Cage. It is a stunning story that will stay with me for a long time to come. Hazel Gaynor is a fantastic author and I can't wait to read more from her in the future.
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This was a brilliant read and is being featured on my blog for my quick star reviews feature, which I have created on my blog so I can catch up with all the books I have read and therefore review.
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I enjoyed this book which is told from the perspectives of multiple characters, both adults and children. I have never read anything quite like it in terms of where it is set. 

This is a story about a school in China which was educating English children when war breaks out. The teachers and pupils end up in a concentration camp. I think it does gloss over the true terror and hardship of their situation somewhat (very Tenko-like) but there are months of sadness and reality checks. I enjoyed the relationships between the teachers and their pupils, particularly as their circumstances grow harder. The girls are guides and I thought this was an unusual theme to include but it helped motivate the characters in the face of adversity.

There is much unpleasantness: a significant section of the book is set in a concentration camp. I was delighted at the inference of ‘Troubles’ fate.
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Based on true events this book is incredible. Well done to the author who weaves a fascinating tale set in the more unusual setting of China during the Second World War.. An extraordinary read, very well written and sensitively done. I've read the other reviews and I agree with all the 5 star ones. An absolutely amazing read
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Thanks to NetGalley for allowing me this arc in return for a fair and non-biased review.

I was unable to really get going with this book. I found it traumatic. It does have beautiful life lessons for how to live your life. I was unaware of these events in the war. There’s nothing wrong with the book it was too heavy for me.
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I loved this book. Such an enchanting story. 
I read it in two days which for me is a sign of a good book.
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Compassion and friendship amidst the horrors of a WWII internment camp. Teachers and pupils  from a missionary school in Japan help each other survive, forming a Brownie and Girl Guide pack to take their minds off the horrors around them. An exceptional story beautifully told.
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A very timely story to remind us of what is important in life, and all the ways in which we can appreciate the little things in life. I loved reading about an aspect of WWII which I was completely unaware of, set in a country which I love to learn more about, too. 
I realised after finishing The Bird in the Bamboo Cage that Nancy would have been around the same age as my grandmother, whose experience of WWII I know very little about other than walking home in the blackout - I should have asked more when I was able to and perhaps I'll take a leaf out of the Elspeth's book to have my 'eyes on the horizon' and ask my mother about her childhood instead.
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This book is told from the perspective of two characters, 10-year-old Nancy and her teacher, Elspeth Kent. They are both in a missionary school, Chefoo, when Japan declares war on Britain and America, Japanese forces take control of the school.
Following the initial take over, the students and teachers are moved to several different camps where they are faced with hunger, heartache, filthy living conditions and fear. 
Inspired by true events, The Bird in the Bamboo Cage is a wonderful tale of trust, fighting spirit and hope. The relationship between Elspeth and Nancy is beautiful, as is that between Elspeth and her friend & colleague Minnie.
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A beautiful and sometimes harrowing story of a British school taken over by the Japanese army. Seen through the eyes both of the adult teachers and the children themselves it is a heartwarming story of friendship and resilience
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The Bird in the Bamboo Cage by Hazel  Gaynor is  a remarkable book about an unprecedented time in our history, when a school, it’s pupils and teachers are all interned during the Second World War in China. The storyline is about some of the teachers and children,  who  were interned in this time in World War II and  tells their stories of bravery, tenacity and determination.
It is an extremely moving and interesting book and keeps the reader engaged all the way through until the time of their release and freedom.
Highly recommended
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This book was a wonderful and at times extremely emotional story of a group of children and their teachers who were at a missionary school in China.  As WW2 broke out the school was taken over by Japanese soldiers.  This story broke my heart at times but the way the children and teachers dealt with the situations as they happened was so encouraging.  An absolutely wonderful and heartfelt read.
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The Bird in the Bamboo Cage by Hazel Gaynor was an amazing book that will stay with me.......The Bird in the Bamboo cage is inspired by true events, and you will find its an unforgettable read about a remarkable community faced with unimaginable hardship, and the life-changing bonds formed in a distant corner of a terrible war. Based in China 1941, Elspeth Kent has fled a unhappy life in England for a promising teaching post at a missionary school in Northern China. But, before she got settled in her new job Japan declares war on the allies and occupies the school. Everything around Elspeth, changes and her home comforts and security are all replaced with uncertainty and fear of war that's on the horizon.  
Nancy Plummer who was ten years old and her school friends are all now separated from their parents. Elspeth and her fellow teachers all need courage , love and friendship to all stick together to get through this alive.
Removed from the school, they face even greater uncertainty and danger at a Japanese internment camp, where cruelty and punishment reign. 

WoW, what a strong book this was. I really enjoyed it and highly recommend The bird in the Bamboo cage.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own
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I do not know why I waited this long to pick this one up. I saw rave reviews of it and had it on my TBR but did not read it around the release date. I feel remorseful for that, given the way I felt while reading the book. 
It is, foremost, a smooth read. Despite the trauma of the content, the narration flows and makes it a very intriguing read. The story focuses on a very different aspect of war. 
We meet the residents of a boarding school in China for expats. The students are primarily the children of diplomats or missionaries. The war is ongoing between China and Japan, but once the larger world starts participating in it, the school is occupied. The years that follow sound torturous, but the bitter-sweet ending made it possible to set it aside.
What I loved about the dual narrative, in this case, is very simple, we hear the voices of both an adult and a child (or two). This helps put into perspective the lengths one would go to to ensure another's mental peace. The teachers hold back their true terror to preach (and practice) certain codes of conduct. The children, in their turn, try to keep the peace and not lean too heavily on the adults because they see the cracks. This parallel viewpoint of the same story made me like this more than I would otherwise!
I would recommend this to anyone who wants wartime historical fiction based in a very different location with unlikely protagonists. 
I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers, but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.
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This is a story that I was not aware of, but it makes sense and I don't know why it surprised me. When the US and Britain declare war on Japan, any citizens from those countries, including the British Commonwealth who are living in China are now prisoners of Japan, the country who has taken control. The students and the teachers of Cheefoo missionary school are first kept at the school, but throughout the story get moved to other camps. This is the story of one of the teachers and students.

This is historical fiction at its best. The story is narrated from two POVs, that of Elspeth Kent a teacher who is preparing to return to England to help with the war effort when the school becomes their prison. The second is ten year old Nancy Plummer (aka Plum). Plum and her friends Dorothy (Sprout) and Joan (Mouse) are students at the Chefoo Missionary School, they have always felt safe, secure and been well looked after. Suddenly the children and staff are cut off from their loved ones and the outside world by the Japanese army. The girls look to their teachers and their training as Girl Guides to get them through this terrible time. Although not physically abused or punished, the children deal with lack of food, poor weather, oppression, disease and seeing things that children that age should not have to see. This book is based on true events and that realism is there in this story. My heart broke for these teachers and students who were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

There were so many themes in this book, courage, strength, and determination to survive. The Brownies and Girl Guide theme is original and refreshing as it demonstrates its importance to the young girls who were facing unspeakable events. I know that guiding is not as big an organization today as in the past, but perhaps this book might bring it back to the forefront showing the values it helps young girls develop. This book shows the strength of the human spirit, the strong bond and trust formed between teachers and students, and the importance of lifelong friendship. Hazel Gaynor’s books do not disappoint with her attention to detail as well as her thorough research which shines through. I could feel the pain and heartbreak of these characters, see the environment, and hear the cries of the prisoners and farmers. This is definitely a five star read for me, one that I certainly recommend to those who enjoy Historical Fiction.
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A well-written and inspiring piece of historical fiction I would definitely recommend. I shall certainly seek out more from this author.
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This is a fabulous book.

It is a powerful story about war and the impact it has on innocent children, it showed me a side of the war that I hadn't considered and kept me hanging on at every twist and turn of the plot. 
I loved that the book carried on the story after the war and didn't stop at liberation.

I think that this book would be of interest to everyone, it is well written and the author is amazing at keeping the audience engaged.
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Its always interesting to see what an author will do with a novel based on true events and characters. Of course you never know how true to events they maybe and what artistic licence the author will take, but to me that didnt matter, what I wanted was a good story with characters that I could connect with and I wasn’t disappointed.

The premise of a boarding school in China for children of diplomats, missionaries and business people was not something I had necessarily associated with World War II. The invasion by the Japanese and their subsequent imprisonment proved mesmerising, sad, but also humbling, as Gaynor used the voices of Nancy, one of the students and her teacher Elspeth to relate a wonderful story.

Most novels concentrate on the barbaric aspect of war time internment, and yes, Gaynor touched on this, the rape of women, the reprisals for those that disobeyed but what was refreshing was the more human angle she took, the techniques and sheer guts and determination Nancy and Elspeth used to stay alive and maintain some sense of optimism

You couldn’t help but feel huge empathy for Nancy, separated from her mother, the prospect of many more months, years with no contact, but Gaynor didn’t drown her in self pity. From somewhere deep inside she gave her a deep resolve and an inner strength that forced her to get out of bed each day and make the most of what she had. Her friendships, particularly with Dorothy and Mouse were endearing, and the indomitable Mrs T provided sparks of joy in what could have been a very bleak narrative. Indeed Mrs T was one of my favourite characters, her subversive actions under the guise of a library showed the bravery and risks many took to make life just that little bit more bearable.

Elsbeth, their teacher, was in fact the heroine of the novel, the onset of war an obstacle that prevented her flight back to England. Gaynor showed us a woman who had immeasurable energy, strength and resolve. Her selflessness, her need to protect her students as she gave them structure, a purpose was astounding. Her lapses in confidence, in stamina were always momentary, before a friend or her inner voice spoke to her, and urged her onward

The Girl Guiding movement played a huge part, the badge challenges, the skills it asked of its participants the ultimate force that pushed the girls, gave life a meaning and an ingenious tool used by Elspeth.

Gaynor, intertwined the fate of the local Chinese, their fear but also bravery as they assisted the interned. The soldiers that guarded them a mix of the good and the bad, feared by their prisoners.

You got a huge feel for the sapping heat in the summer, the biting chill of the winters, the illness that plagued their malnourished and ravaged bodies. You wondered how they survived, where they found the resolve and stoicism to endure.

I loved that Gaynor don’t drag the novel down with endless misery, and gloom, but injected moments of joy, of love and more importantly friendship. They were friendships that endured time and life and I would have been so cross if Gaynor had not included an epilogue!

The Bird In The Bamboo Cage was a refreshing change in the swathe of novels set in World War II. It was entertaining, educational, fascinating and a wonderful read.
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