This book is a coming-of-age memoir set in Malaya before and after World War 2. The author takes us back to the delightful times of curry tiffins, porcelain dolls, Cantonese amahs (not-so-delightful) castor-oil Saturdays. Born into a Penang family with strong maritime connections, Maisie, her sister Olga and brother John enjoy a happy carefree existence which comes to an end with the death of their mother.
The Prout children are sent away from the family home to convent nuns and Christian brothers in Singapore. The two sisters spend the next 14 years of their youth traversing Malaya as CHIJ boarders in Singapore and Seremban, under the watchful eyes of the nuns -- a varied lot fleshed out by Maisie's sharp, humorous and often poignant recollections.
Witnesses to the first air raid over Singapore, the sisters observe endure and survive the Japanese Occupation to welcome the liberation forces and complete their interrupted education, graduating in due course with Senior Cambridge Certificates, then going on to train as teachers in Seremban.
This memoir will strike a chord with those who remember the old CHIJ institutions, the Occupation period and post-war Malaya. Those too young to recall these events will be charmed by Maisie's stories, delivered in her inimitable style.