The Flower of War, by Christian Ball.
This novel, based on a true story, is set in a small convent school in Nanking, China, during the Japanese Imperial Army's invasion and destruction of Nanking. During the chaos of the invasion, a group of prostitutes from a local brothel climb over the walls and join the handful of children left at the school, all seeking refuge and protection. The Japanese are not following the conventions of war, and so there is little the small staff can do to protect any of the individuals trapped inside the convent.
I was extremely disappointed in this book. I have heard for years about the "Rape of Nanking," and the promise of a historical novel on that subject had me very excited. What a let down. I didn't find any of the characters very likeable, and the story itself was less than compelling, more a slog through the history than a moving story. There was nothing wrong with the language used or the descriptions, but I simply never was able to get into this story. It never captured my imagination, and I couldn't relate to or empathize with any of the characters. Moreover, the resolution of the book, where one character meets another to find out what happened to her is less than convincing, and we are left with a question of whether the individuals are actually who they are thought to be. All around a disappointing read. 2.0 out of 5.0.
I received a digital review copy of this book from the publisher. This did not affect my review in any way.