Annabelle Thong Imran Hashim Epigram Books | 344 pages
East meets West in this funny page-turner about a Singaporean student, Annabelle Thong, and her adventures studying at the Sorbonne in Paris. The story centres on Annabelle’s Singaporean sensibilities being affronted by the freedoms of the French, as she embarks on a search for love. Written by a Singaporean author who spent time in France, it’s an interesting social commentary on these societies. The prejudices and arrogance Annabelle carries with her are also reflected in her French friends; their opposing views and how they shape and influence each other make for an interesting read.
There are poignant changes in the characters’ perspectives as Annabelle experiences life in Paris. The humour of this book will be apparent to readers who are familiar with the cultures of both Singapore and France; an understanding of both cultures certainly helps to more easily empathise with the heroine. There are some standout comedic moments, such as Annabelle’s foray into online dating and the disastrous results; her friendship with her “first gay friend” also offers some funny exchanges.
Fans of the Bridget Jones series will probably enjoy this story, as there are similarities with these characters as the socially awkward yet lovable “fish out of water”. While it is a light and easy read, the underlying themes make it worthwhile. One for the beach.