THE GOLDEN STAIRS by Cecille Leslie


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This second novel about the Far East (The Rope Bridge--1964) is scaffolded on an authentic incident--the evacuation of Rangoon in 1942 and what was known as the Hukong Valley Exodus in which some 40,000 men, women and children of mixed blood and nationalities tried to reach India. Only half survived. Implemented by the letters and records of many whom the author knew, she begins her story shortly before the bombing of Rangoon. It is not too firmly shaped to begin with, and alternates between the experiences of three children, particularly Ken McNeil with a Burmese mother and a British liaison officer father, and a Miss Wadley of The Helping Hand, a spinster who has escorted young Ken back to Rangoon and who, shedding her old life, is increasingly seduced by the East and a self-indulgent fantasy romance with Ken's father. But the last phase of the story, based on Miss Wadley's diary, gains dramatic dominance in the confusion and dispersion and ascendant fatalitics of the slow march across the mountains where she is left, by her children, to die. . .. Miss Leslie writes a pleasant if somewhat undifferentiated prose, but tells her story with an intelligent constraint and a very susceptible sympathetic reach.

Pub Date: May 3rd, 1968
Publisher: Doubleday