My Initial Thoughts on The Year of Living Dangerously by Christopher J. Koch #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel #mustread #review

I started reading The Year of Living Dangerously by Christopher J. Koch, who was born in Hobart, Australia. It’s an interesting read so far, although I have to say yet again it doesn’t quite fit the idea of being historical fiction. Let me explain.

The story is set in 1965 Indonesia. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post about Anil’s Ghost in this series, the accepted definition of historical fiction is set at least 50 years prior to the present. The first publication date of this book is 1978 in Great Britain by Penguin Books. So, that means this story was written as contemporary fiction, not historical since it was published only 13 years after the story date. However, from this reader’s point of view, it’s set more than 50 years from today, so I’ll count it for my purposes.

This paperback book is 278 pages long, with an Author’s Note detailing a couple of sources for the story content. Other than that, no other supporting material is provided. It’s divided into three parts: Patet Nem: Hamilton’s Dwarf (112 pages); Patet Sanga: Water from the Moon (94 pages); and Patet Manjura; Amok (71 pages). I always find it interesting to look at the parts of a book when it’s divided up into sections like this. You may remember I did the same in my discussion about The Stationery Shop a few weeks ago. Here, the length of each part decreases as the story progresses. I’m currently on page 137, in Patet Sanga, so I don’t have a feel yet for the reasoning behind the sections. I’ll share my thoughts on that in the Impressions post next time.

One very interesting device the author is using is that of a narrator as a character in the story. His name is Cookie but so far I don’t know very much about him. He’s apparently a foreign news reporter like the character Guy, and he’s observing the relationship of the three main characters: Guy Hamilton, Billy Kwan (cameraman for Guy), and Jill Bryant (the woman the other two men love). I admit to being baffled at first by who was narrating the story because Cookie has insights into all three of the main characters but in a way that’s far more analytical than someone involved at the time of the story. Instead, the narrator has the benefit of hindsight knowing, able to provide the context of their actions and what those actions lead to in the future of the story. I think it took me several chapters to discern the narrator as a fourth character relating the story after the fact.

I should finish reading the book in a few days, so will have my Impressions of the overall story for you next time.

Happy reading!


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As the American Revolution drags on, Charles Town, South Carolina, remains under siege by the British, and one woman’s father is determined to marry her off to a suspected traitor. Emily Sullivan is beset from all sides but vows to fight her own war for independence.

Frank Thomson walks a fine line between spying for the Americans and being a perceived loyalist traitor. Posing as a simple printer of broadsheets and pamphlets, he sends crucial encrypted intelligence to the general camped outside of town. But when Frank learns Emily has been imprisoned by the enemy, he risks his own life, freedom, and heart for hers.

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