The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng
Set in the foothills of Malaya in the 1950's, the story centres around Yun Ling and her dedication to creating a memorial to her sister, killed by the Japanese during their occupation of Malaya. Prior to the war, the two girls had toured Japan and admired their style of gardens. Now, Yun Ling wishes to fulfil her promise but she needs help in its design. She seeks out Aritomo, once the favoured gardener of the Emperor of Japan and renowned garden designer. Aritomo refuses to build the memorial but offers the prospect of Yun Ling becoming his apprentice, which she accepts and embarks upon a journey into her past and the secrets of her memory.
This is a novel of love and hate - love of the garden and its creation, hate for the man whose fellow countrymen killed her beloved sister.
This book should be read and then re-read to capture the lush vegetation of Tan Twan Eng's words as he beautifully and evocatively captures the moods of each of the protaginists. The novel is serene and graceful, harsh and cruel, haunting and atmospheric, written so elegantly that it will remain you with long after reading.