Dorrigo Evans is the one who keeps the other prisoners of war in the Japanese camp sane, while they labour in wretched conditions to build an impossible railway. He leads them, champions them – fights desperately to curb the death and disease, brutality and despair. When he finally returns to Australia he is lauded as a hero, but finds little to fill the emptiness he feels – perhaps most affectingly the loss of the love of his life, his uncle’s wife Amy.
This was an extremely clever, extremely well written book. I read it on my holiday, so a few weeks ago now, but I’ve still not made my mind up about how the different elements fit together and whether there is any sort of conclusion you can come to. I hope not, as I think that would be simplistic for the complexities at play in Evans’ – and the other characters portrayed – lives. But this is a magnificent interplay of war, weakness, love, culture, brotherhood, cruelty, purpose, hardship – and more, weaving an intricate and intriguing picture of humanity.