This took some time to get through thanks to the small print and density of the prose, but it was effort well spent. The story often lacks momentum, but the payoff for a little patience is a wealth of fascinating detail about Singapore from 1927 through 1956. Chand explores the mix of ethnicities in Singapore and the racial hierarchy resulting from British colonial rule. She weaves together the lives of several major and minor characters representing all levels of that hierarchy, including Indian, Malay, Chinese, Japanese, Eurasian, and British. The story begins and ends with citizens agitating for freedom from British rule. In between is World War II and the atrocities of Japanese occupation. That brutality is faithfully represented, along with the ruin Singaporeans faced when the war ended. The author lives in Singapore and sought assistance from native sources, so her narrative has that ring of authenticity and gobs of local flavor. If you cannot abide flaws in the mechanics of writing, this novel may try your patience. Chand dangles more modifiers than anyone I've ever read, leading to some puzzling and amusing constructions. I have to paraphrase, as I no longer have the book, but one example that made me laugh said something like "He had received a request to meet with BK in a ball of sticky rice." Hmmm...interesting choice of meeting place...Chand is also prone to excessive use of past perfect tense, especially in the first half of the book. I confess, this did begin to get on my nerves. Just plain past tense is so much easier to read.I was happy to overlook the writing flaws for the sake of my strong interest in the topic. I mention the errors only because some people cannot bear them.