The Disappeared - Kim Echlin

AFTER 30 years, Anne Greves feels compelled to break her silence about her first lover – the love of her life – and a treacherous pursuit across Cambodia s killing fields. As a motherless 16-year-old in Montreal, with a distant and taciturn father, she fe

AFTER 30 years, Anne Greves feels compelled to break her silence about her first lover - the love of her life - and a treacherous pursuit across Cambodia's killing fields.

As a motherless 16-year-old in Montreal, with a distant and taciturn father, she fell in love with Serey, an exiled musician.

They defied convention, set up home together despite opposition because of his race, and were happy. But Serey is haunted by worries about what may have happened to his family - his parents and his younger brother - in Pol Pot's genocidal regime in his homeland. And when the borders are reopened, he goes back to search for them, promising to keep in touch. Anne hears nothing and weeks turn into months, then into years, without any word.

After a decade of waiting and hoping, which she spends learning the khmer language, she goes to Cambodia to search for Serey in the bars of capital, Phnom Penh. And against all the odds, she eventually finds him. Again, they settle into a happy life, but there's tragedy lurking around the corner


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The Disappeared (�11.99, Abacus) is a love story set against horrific loss and the killing fields of Pol Pot's 1970s regime.

Canadian author Kim Echlin has a vivid style all her own - a spare, almost poetical style, with short chapters, some barely a couple of paragraphs long, which make for a quick and easy read.

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And yet the subject matter is far from easy to read, as anyone who knows anything about this truly terrible time - in which two million people were killed, most either dumped in mass graves or left in the open to rot and feed the wild animals - will understand.

It's a story which will live long in the memory, as much for the way Echlin writes as for the subject matter.

- LINDSAY JONES

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