Book One of my memoirs Heaven Tempers the Wind. Story of a War Child will be in print by September. The title is taken from Psalm 6: 2.
In Charles Kingsley’s book Hereward the Wake, the protagonist Hereward says, “They say heaven tempers the wind to the shorn lamb, but it tempers it too, sometimes, to the hobbled ass.”
Heaven Tempers the Wind. Story of a War Child tells the story of a Eurasian family caught up in the Japanese occupation of Burma during World War Two. Much of the family story is told from the point of view of the fourth child. It depicts their flight from invading forces, and gives vivid accounts of the war.
The narrative follows the family from a comfortable life under British colonial rule, to the invasion of a foreign power which renders them homeless, sick and starving. The story concludes with the end of war.
Heaven Tempers the Wind is a story of suffering which never fails in its universal appeal. The resonances then, are twofold: firstly, the conflict is one that is familiar in the Australian collective memory; secondly, another less obvious appeal lies in the retelling of some of the history of contemporary Burma, in particular the part played by Aung San (father of Aung San Suu Kyi). Readers familiar with contemporary politics would be interested in the history preceding it.
The popularity of personal war stories is widespread. Within the context of a familiar war, Heaven Tempers the Wind tells an unfamiliar story that will also be of interest to readers who still live with memories of the war in Asia. Part of Australia’s national mythology is defined by war, and particularly potent are those stories of war that involve suffering. Gallipoli is evocative, not because it is a place of victory, but for the opposite reason.