Book Review: The Bird in the Bamboo Cage by Hazel Gaynor

August 23rd, 2020 by Jane Turner

My review of The Bird in the Bamboo Cage by Hazel Gaynor comes courtesy of a Random Things Blog Tour. I received a free copy of the book. The Bird in the Bamboo Cage was published on 20 August by Harper Collins.


Blurb: Cover Art for The Bird in the Bamboo Cage

China, 1941. With Japan’s declaration of war on the Allies, Elspeth Kent’s future changes forever. When soldiers take control of the missionary school where she teaches, comfortable security is replaced by rationing, uncertainty and fear.

Ten-year-old Nancy Plummer has always felt safe at Chefoo School. Now the enemy, separated indefinitely from anxious parents, the children must turn to their teachers – to Miss Kent and her new Girl Guide patrol especially – for help. But worse is to come when the pupils and teachers are sent to a distant internment camp. Unimaginable hardship, impossible choices and danger lie ahead.

Inspired by true events, this is the unforgettable story of the life-changing bonds formed between a young girl and her teacher, in a remote corner of a terrible war.


My thoughts:

This was lovely.

Moving, poignant, heartbreaking and truly amazing. Ms Gaynor has produced a stunningly beautiful work, bringing to my mind Ballard’s Empire of the Sun or the TV show, TENKO.

The characters are engaging (though I did wish Miss Kent would shut her brain up at times), the settings perfectly vivid, the destruction and sudden brutality difficult and shocking.

At once beautiful and horrifying; ultimately highlighting a triumph of human spirit.

This is not an easy read – this one will stir you. But it will leave you feeling strong.

As strong as Ms Kent and Nancy.


Rating: 4/5

About the Author:

Hazel Gaynor is an award-winning, New York Times, USA Today, and Irish Times, bestselling author of historical fiction, including her debut THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME, for which she received the 2015 RNA Historical Novel of the Year award. THE LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER’S DAUGHTER was shortlisted for the 2019 HWA Gold Crown award. She is published in thirteen languages and nineteen countries.

Hazel is co-founder of creative writing events, The Inspiration Project and, though originally from Yorkshire, currently lives in Ireland with her family.



Note: Bear in mind that some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a small commission. I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.


Don’t believe me? Go read the rest of the reviews on the tour:


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