Finch brings us a story that is both simple and complex, one that allows the most unlikely of characters to connect, to develop and to expose their vulnerabilities.
Reginald Washington is the archetypal British senior civil servant - stiff upper lip and all. Extremely successful, well respected and an authority on gender equality in society, Reggie, has achieved it all. Close to sixty, Reggie is unmarried and still lives at home, with his parents and adult sisters, though. When a chance encounter at the local pub introduces him to the beautiful, exotic, and alluringly sexy, thirty-year-old, Thai domestic helper, Siri-Srai, Reggie's whole world turns upside down. He is smitten and no amount of "common sense" from his family is going to change that. Reggie is in love and embarks on a journey of discovery that will take him away from his "safe place" the halls of parliament, halfway across the world to the "Land of Smiles" where he will discover exactly how the "other half" lives and what it is like to be a "foreigner" (farang) in a strange land.
This is a beautiful love story, a poignant and touching portrayal of devotion and betrayal that will pull at any reader's heartstrings. The story resonated so deeply with me because of the personal connection to the experience, yet Finch invites us all inside that very different world of cross-cultural relationships and bathes the reader in understanding, empathy and a deep connection to the characters. I can honestly say I loved this story and I particularly loved the telling of it in a straight-forward narrative. Jonathan Finch is to be commended for his exceptional work on this book and I think, from my perspective, he has truly arrived as a novelist. Congratulations on a job well done. Oh, and the little pun in the title of the book was just the icing on the cake for me.