Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Incident at Badamya, by Dorothy Gilman


July has been a somewhat miserable reading month for me and not because I didn't make significant headway in my TBR stack! Rather, I didn't really care for very much of what I read. I'll probably hit up the books I disliked in one post to save time, but I thought I'd take a second to note one book that I did very much enjoy.

Have you read Dorothy Gilman before? Born in New Jersey, Gilman began writing children's stories under the name of Dorothy Gilman Butters. She dropped the name Butters after her divorce and began writing solely under her maiden name. On the heels of Agatha Christie, Gilman offered up the character of Emily Pollifax, a sixty year old woman who doubled as a member of the local garden club as well as a spy for the CIA. Mrs. Pollifax is the character that Gilman is most well known for, however she did write several other novels, including Incident at Badamya.

Incident at Badamya tells the story of sixteen-year-old Gen, daughter of an American missionary who has been raised in Burma. Due to a series of hardships, her father commits suicide in 1950, leaving his young daughter with a charge to find her own way back to America and to her aunt for guardianship. Gen leaves the village, where she had lived with her father, to hike along the river where she had observed a steamer ship. The ship had passed by the village on the day of her father's suicide and she hoped to secure passage onboard. The 1950's in post-independent Burma saw a lot of upheaval and civil unrest and Gen's journey isn't all that she had hoped. She ends up being captured and held with a group of Europeans, who had been onboard said steamer, for ransom.  

This book is part mystery but mostly suspense. Gilman's style of story telling is engaging and intelligent. It's clear that she has a good handle on world events as well as different world religions and philosophy which makes this an intriguing story to read. Gilman traveled extensively in her adult life and that set the stage for her Mrs. Pollifax series, but also aided her in crafting other tales such as this one. Gilman really is a joy and a pleasure to read. 

If you've not yet read Gilman, I'd recommend you start with Pollifax first as I think you'll like her best. But if you do have a chance to read any other of Gilman's works, I would also recommend you take the opportunity. I don't believe you would regret it.

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