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Tan Twan Eng

Booker Prize Nominee for Longlist (2023)

The House of Doors

The House of Doors


ISBN: 9781838858308

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The House of Doors is a 2023 historical novel by Tan Twan Eng. It is set in the 1920s British colony of the Federated Malay States, specifically in Penang . The novel tells the stories of the local residents and visitors, including a fictionalized version of the famous British writer W. Somerset Maugham .

The story revolves around two characters:

  • Lesley Hamlyn: A beautiful and enigmatic woman who lives in a grand house called Cassowary House with her husband, Robert, a well-to-do lawyer, and their two sons.
  • Willie Somerset Maugham: A cynical and world-weary writer who visits the Hamlyns on a stopover during his travels in Asia.

As Maugham recuperates from an illness, Lesley shares stories of her past life in Malaya, including her encounters with revolutionary leader Sun Yat-sen and her connection to a scandalous murder trial. Maugham, inspired by her tales, becomes intrigued by the secrets and complexities of life in the British colony.

The House of Doors is a richly woven novel that explores themes of race, class, colonialism, and the power of storytelling. It is also a captivating exploration of friendship, betrayal, and the search for love and belonging.

Here are some reasons why you might enjoy The House of Doors:

  • Vivid historical setting: The novel brings the sights, sounds, and atmosphere of 1920s Malaya to life.
  • Compelling characters: Lesley and Maugham are both complex and fascinating characters who will stay with you long after you finish reading the book.
  • Intriguing plot: The novel is full of secrets and surprises that will keep you guessing until the very end.
  • Beautiful prose: Tan Twan Eng is a gifted writer who has a way of making words come alive.
  • Thought-provoking themes: The novel explores a number of important themes that are still relevant today.
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