‘Beautiful and Moving’
From the moment Benedict is told of her Uncle Erno’s bequest – money and an instruction to scatter his ashes from the Bridge on the River Kwai – we are with her on a journey of understanding. Why did Uncle Erno want his ashes returned to where he was a prisoner of the Japanese during WW2? And – almost incidental at first – why did Benedict’s brother Antony become a Buddhist monk in Thailand?
Written in diary style, Benedict’s Brother is a deceptively simple tale of love and loss, life and death, in the remote north-east of Thailand. Uncle Erno’s bequest means that Benedict can also visit her brother – her last living relative – and perhaps gain some answers.
Beauty and fresh experience is all around – Benedict is captivated by the place, the local people, by the monastery’s daily rituals, and by her brother’s friends. As a foreigner in a strange land she is a young woman we can all identify with – struggling to make sense of everything. There is humour even in her frustrations, and her journey reveals some surprising and unexpected contrasts – not least when she visits the River Kwai.
Excerpts from Uncle Erno’s fragile wartime diary reveal the depths of cruelty imposed during the building of the railway, and yet Benedict’s experience there is one of the most moving parts of the book.
A beautiful, touching story which draws parallels between past and present – and best of all, has love and understanding at the end of it. It would be wonderful to see this story filmed.