A story set in 50's Malaya at the height of the communist guerilla activity. This is a backdrop for a story of love, passion, desire and duty as a beautiful married chinese women, Mei Kwei, falls in love with a priest who saves the woman caught with Mei's husband from public embarrassment.
Set in the 1950s, this atmospheric and moving love story by Singaporean author Lim (The Bondmaid) chronicles a Chinese girl's coming-of-age during the British occupation of Malaya. Mei Kwei, the Teardrop Story woman, was born "doubly cursed": not only is she a girl, but she has a teardrop-shaped mole beside her eye--a harbinger of suffering, according to Chinese folklore. Although her father scorns her and unsuccessfully attempts to have her adopted by another family, the resourceful Mei Kwei survives by charming those around her, from her loutish Big Older Brother--whose affection for her has sexual overtones--to the three men whose attentions later change her life. The first, a rich man known as Old Yoong, courts her by paying off her father's opium debts and rescuing her family from poverty; predictably, Mei Kwei quickly rebels against his possessiveness and finally spurns him for Austin Tong, a wealthy young entrepreneur. It isn't until Mei Kwei meets the unconventional French priest Fran ois Martin, however, that she finally falls in love. Lim richly recreates Malayan life during this turbulent period, and she is a vivid chronicler of the intersection of Eastern and Western mores. The wealth of detail sometimes obscures the characters themselves, but once the narrative acquires momentum, the forbidden passion between Mei Kwei and Father Martin attains a compelling intensity. FYI: The Bondmaid is forthcoming in paper from Warner Books.