John & May Chu Harding,
Escape from Paradise:
From Third World to First

(IDKPress, 2001)

This true story, set mainly in Singapore, tells of a young woman who was part of the infamous Tiger Balm family. In this autobiography, May Chu tells the story of her escape from her arranged marriage in Singapore to the United States, a tale involving an American, the current British Lord Chancellor and an ex-CIA agent with ties to a former U.S. president. May Chu, to get a divorce in Singapore, had to endure many hardships that she and others have termed "guerilla warfare" against a prominent family that had business ties around the world.

The autobiography, while mediocrely written, is an intriguing story. At the same time it is horrifying when one reads what May Chu had to endure simply to get a divorce and to protect herself and her sons from further abuse. The former solictor general of Singapore, Francis T. Seow, correctly states the case further for this book when he says it deserves to be widely read because, in part, the story occurred in an allegedly "squeaky-clean state with hypocritical values." May Chu's observations about Singaporean society, from education to a women's place, are extremely insightful.

While I would not rush out to buy this book, I would recommend picking it up the next time that you're at a library.

[ by Melissa Kowalewski ]
Rambles: 16 March 2002

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