Smorgasbord Book Advance Review – #Malaya #1950s – Have You Eaten Rice Today by Apple Gidley

Today a review for a highly interesting novel set in Malaya post WWII which is both an adventure and a love story. Have You Eaten Rice Today by Apple Gidley

About the book

The Emergency rumbles through the jungle, the kampongs, and towns as the communist uprising in 1950’s Malaya adds poignancy to the salutation, ‘have you eaten rice today?’ when hunger drives some terrorists to surrender.

Simon Frampton returns to Malaya as a rubber planter after failing to settle into civilian life in England after the War. His knowledge of the jungle is again put to use when a war-time covert force is reformed and renamed, Ferret Force, made up of Malays, Chinese and Europeans.

Dee Cunningham, an Australian nurse longing to escape the confines of Townsville, Queensland, joins the British Red Cross to help set up and run rural clinics in Malaya.

The violence of guerrilla warfare becomes the backdrop to their love story, but miscommunication leads to sadness. It is not until sixty years later, when Simon’s grandson Max comes to stay at his Dorset farm, when he finds a box filled with envelopes with Australian stamps, and the truth comes to light.

Have You Eaten Rice Today? is a poignant exploration of Malaya’s violent history, merdeka, and how love is found in unexpected places.

My advance review for the book June 11th 2022

This is a book I found difficult to put down. Excellently written with memorable characters faced with the dangers of guerrilla warfare, interlaced with a once in a lifetime romance.

There are many books and films written about World War Two, but few about the conflict in Malaya from the late forties and throughout the fifties. A time of a rejection of colonial administration in India echoed around the British outposts, and before the advent of worldwide broadcasting and the Internet, the public was dependent on newspaper articles based on official statements that were veiled in secrecy.

The author lived in Malaya as a child, and clearly absorbed both culture and language which provided an authentic and fascinating background to the story. Well researched, the activities of the Ferret Force and the local Malay and Chinese who supported them, offered heart stopping action as they moved through dense jungle, battling the natural elements and diseases, as well as the communist activists hiding in its depths. Without modern communications and only carrying the barest of supplies, young men and women put their lives on the line, often for just scraps of vital information.

Those civilians living on plantations, or working within the interim government preparing for independence were also in great danger of reprisals. This included Dee Cunningham in her role as a Red Cross nurse, moving along the rivers to bring aid to villagers along the edge of the jungle. Her upbringing in the outback of Australia definitely gave her remarkable resilience even under extreme pressure and danger. Simon and his unwillingness to settle back into the life on a farm in Dorset, and determination to work towards bringing peace to the region even at the risk to his own life, is the perfect match for her spirited personality.

The romance was beautifully choreographed and written against the backdrop, of not just the jungle and its dangers, but the stunning scenery along the coast and in the mountains.

Just when you begin to wonder where this story will lead we are time shifted 60 years to 2010.

There is now a younger generation eager to find their place in the world and part of that journey will involve their discovery of the past and revelations that will change their lives forever. We return to Malaya to bring all the threads together in a wonderful climax to the story in the hands of a master storyteller. There were times when I was reminded of the writing of Pearl S. Buck and Nevil Shute, two of my favourite authors.

I can highly recommend this book to everyone who loves well written modern history novels and heart-warming love stories. 

Head over to pre-order the book: Amazon USAnd: Amazon UK

Also by Apple Gidley

Read the reviews and buy the books : Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – follow Apple: Goodreads – Blog:Apple Gidley WordPress – Twitter: @ExpatApple


About Apple Gidley

Apple Gidley, an Anglo-Australian author, whose life has been spent absorbing countries and cultures, considers herself a global nomad. When not on St Croix in the US Virgin Islands, she can be found in Houston, Texas.

She has moved 26 times, and has called twelve countries home (Nigeria, England, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, Papua New Guinea, The Netherlands, Trinidad and Tobago, Thailand, Scotland, USA, Equatorial Guinea), and her experiences are described in her first book, Expat Life Slice by Slice (Summertime 2012).

Her roles have been varied – from magazine editor to intercultural trainer, from interior designer to Her Britannic Majesty’s Honorary Consul. Now writing full time, Apple evocatively portrays peoples and places with empathy and humour, whether writing travel articles, blogs, short stories or full-length fiction.

She shares her writing space with Bonnie, a stray cat who spreads across her keyboard.

Fireburn (OC Publishing 2017), historical fiction set in the Danish West Indies of the 1870s (now the US Virgin Islands) was followed by the sequel Transfer (OC Publishing 2019). Crucian Fusion, a book of fact and fiction about St Croix in the USVI will be published in the Fall, 2021. Apple’s upcoming novel, set in Malaya of the 1950s and will be published by Vine Leaves Press in September 2022. She is currently working on a book based in India

Thanks for dropping in today and it would be great if you could pre-order Apple’s book to enjoy when available.. thanks Sally.

39 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Book Advance Review – #Malaya #1950s – Have You Eaten Rice Today by Apple Gidley

  1. What a wonderful review, Sally. I love historical fiction placed in cultures unfamiliar to me, and when an author has lived in the setting of the book, the authenticity is a delight. Your reference to Pearl S. Buck got an “oooh” out of me. Lol. Many congrats to Apple and I look forward to the read. Thanks for the recommendation!

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  2. What a heartfelt review, Sally – this sounds like a wonderful love story, and it would be interesting to learn more about the Malayan Emergency. Congratulations to Apple. Toni x

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  4. My mother’s younger cousin used to complain that doing his National service after the war meant he was sent off to Malaya, passing all the servicemen going in the opposite direction back to Britain. Most of us know so little about that time and place, sounds like we would be in good hands reading Apple’s book.

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    • That very subject is addressed in the book. Young men sent out to Malaya – the last of the conscripts in the British Army – often unprepared and thrown in at the deep end. A tough time, although there is one amusing incident in the book about the Suez Canal that is a direct story from my uncle who was a conscript!

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