Annabelle Thong Im­ran Hashim Epi­gram Books | 344 pages

Expat Living (Singapore) - - Arts & Leisure - – Amanda Broad

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.

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