THE ORDEAL by Beatrice Saubin

THE ORDEAL

My Ten Years in a Malaysian Prison
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A gripping account of Saubin's arrest on trumped-up drug charges and her ten-year incarceration in Malaysian prisons. Saubin was 20 when Malaysian airport authorities found five kilograms of heroin sewn into her suitcase. The suitcase was a gift from her lover, Eddy Tan Kim Soo, a slippery drug smuggler who had manipulated the naãve young woman into being his unwitting courier. Soo was never arrested, and Saubin was sentenced to death (reduced to life in prison after appeal). A combination of media attention and diplomatic efforts led to a release she never expected. Beginning with her miserable childhood in France, Saubin explains how early attempts to rebel against the conservative grandmother who raised her led to her arrest. She took to the road early and developed a fascination with the East, traveling to Istanbul, Lebanon, Thailand, and eventually Malaysia. Wretchedly exploitable, Saubin first pledged herself to a Thai man who jilted her, then fell for Soo. In unfortunately lurid language, she describes her affair (``The god of desire had entered my life'') and her shock at Soo's betrayal (``Not Eddy Tan Kim Soo, the love of my life''). Her brutal first years in prison, including the two trials that served to give her hope and then destroy it, form the mesmerizing heart of the book. Initially suicidal, Saubin battled despair by finding allies in fellow prisoners, prison officials, and the French church workers who visited her. By her last years in prison, she was a mature, confident woman with a network of lawyers, diplomats, and writers lobbying the Malaysian government on her behalf. Curiously, the book ends abruptly with her release, without any discussion of what has become of her outside the prison walls. Though flawed, particularly by its excursions into melodrama, this remains a piercing story of strength and courage.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 1-55970-230-3
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Arcade
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1994