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Bibliographical Information
Bamboo Grove
Romy Wood
ISBN: 9780956012517 (0956012515)Publication Date October 2010
Publisher: Alcemi, Tal-y-bont
Format: Paperback, 215x140 mm, 200 pages Language: English Non-Stock Item - Ordered on request Our Price: £9.99   
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A pseudo-Buddhist monk, an illegal immigrant, a bipolar teenager and a quixotic pair of young businessmen are all bound by Eastern Vision, an empire selling everything from faux-Eastern objets to real estate, from client-centred sperm-donation to gypsy magic. A black comedy set in Bangkok about financial collapse, corruption and altruism.

Ceir yn y nofel hon gymysgedd o gymeriadau, gan gynnwys mynach Bwdhaidd, mewnfudwr anghyfreithlon, bachgen yn ei arddegau sy'n dioddef o iselder bipolar a phâr o ddynion busnes ifanc. Comedi du wedi'i osod yn Bangkok ac sy'n ymwneud â chwymp ariannol, twyll ac anhunanoldeb.
This is a long but absorbing coming of age novel spread across two generations. Set partly in Thailand and partly in the UK, this examination of what it means to be different to most of those you meet and those closest to you, Bamboo Grove is a sparkling, anarchic and mostly satisfying tale.

Jessica is an adoptee, unsure of herself and her place in the world; at eighteen she decides it’s time to spread her wings and hooks up with a dubious import/export company who might be able to find her a space to do ‘good works’ and provide a ‘spiritual’ side to their not-exactly-Fair Trade enterprise. Running parallel to Jessica’s narrative is that of her daughter, Yingyang. Born in Thailand, bred in a London stock-cupboard, she arrives in the world unlooked for but much loved. Jessica’s love is further complicated by what is now understood as bipolar disorder.

Both women are searching for something, trying to fill a hole at the centre of their lives – in the end realising that there are no easy answers, even when you do the very best you can to do the ‘right’ thing by others. Their stories take the reader into the heart of Bangkok – a city of many facets, from the infamous fleshpots of the Khao San Road and the slums that are home to thousands, to the glittering high rises that house myriad ex-pats. And from there to the white sand and palm trees that are sanctuary to burned out Westerners and gap year students in search of something ‘other’.

Peopled with richly evoked characters and a tangible sense of place, Bamboo Grove is a rewarding read full of verve and wit.

Caroline Oakley

It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgment should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.

Gellir defnyddio'r adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatâd Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru.
Author Biography:
Romy Wood taught in comprehensive schools for ten years, and as Head of Drama staged productions from Macbeth to Les Miserables. In 2006, she gained an MA from Cardiff University in the Teaching and Practice of Creative Writing and was then awarded a writers bursary by Academi to continue her writing. She works as an Associate Lecturer for the Open University and facilitates therapeutic writing groups. She enjoys travelling, especially to Romania and Thailand where she has family and friends. Romy Wood lives in Cardiff with her husband and three children, and she attributes her successes as much as her disasters to being bipolar.
Further Information:
"A thoroughly gripping read. The story is presented in an inspiring format. Characters are vivid and facinating. As the story unfolds, inextricably linked, are the issues of having bi-polar and being the daughter of someone with bi-polar - a sobering insight. I just want to go to Thailand now - 'every far flung part of it' and read it again - don't want to let it go." www.amazon.co.uk

A pseudo-Buddhist monk, an illegal immigrant, a teenager with precarious mental health and a quixotic pair of young businessmen chancing their luck. All of them intricately, messily bound by the unique and rather dubious organization that is Eastern Vision. The empire has one foot in the seedier realms of metaphysical Surrey and the other amongst the slums and skyscrapers of Bangkok. From faux-Eastern objects to real estate, client-centred sperm-donation to gypsy magic, the tangled fortunes of Eastern Vision go from strength to strength and back again. Yingyang, first child of the dysfunctional troupe, tells us the story; from the day her mother Jessica tripped on a paving slab and never looked back, to her own quirky upbringing and island exile. In Bangkok, enigmatic entrepreneur Bristol takes the helm and in London, Romanian refugee Pippa claws her way daintily up the ladder to exploit the company’s potential for her own ends. Moses, who prefers not to mention that he was born in Surrey, surrounds himself in mystic exoticism, building his own outrageous business-within-a-business. As they battle for control – of the company, of each other and of themselves – they hurtle towards an end none of them could have predicted. A black comedy about sex, financial boom and bust, corruption, global migration, fertility and altruism.

"Buzzes with insight and imagination ... big themes ... [of] environmental responsibility and escape, mental illness and the policing of joy. A very fine debut."
Richard Gwyn, author of The Colour of a Dog Running Away

"An unusual, engaging and unpredictable novel packed with a cosmopolitan cast of colourful characters."
Lindsay Clarke, author of The Chymical Wedding
Last Updated on 22 September 2010

World Mental Health Day will be celebrated at the Wales Millennium Centre this year with the launch of a novel Bamboo Grove, set in Bangkok, with a bipolar teenager as its main character. Manic depressive author Romy Wood looks at the extremes of life in the Far East through the eyes of Jessica, a young woman who also has the disorder. Precarious at the best of times and vulnerable to exotic job offers, Jessica meets Moses, a pseudo-Buddhist monk and Pippa, a Romanian illegal immigrant, and is sent to Bangkok by a quixotic pair of young businessmen. All become intricately, messily bound by the unique and rather dubious organization that is Eastern Vision. The empire has one foot in the seedier realms of metaphysical Surrey and the other amongst the slums and skyscrapers of the City of Angels. From faux-Eastern objets to real estate, client-centred sperm-donation to gypsy magic, the tangled fortunes of Eastern Vision go from strength to strength and back again. Bamboo Grove is a very funny satire about sex, financial boom and bust, corruption, cultural collision, fertility, altruism and unethical tourism.

Mother of three, Open University tutor and author Romy Wood is always creative and hugely practical about having had to be in and out of hospital while she wrote the novel and indeed in the weeks approaching the launch itself. Determined to be there on the day, Friday 8 October (7.30pm), she laughs that “they wouldn’t dare keep me in for something as important to me as this,” adding, “It is so fortuitous that my novel is published for World Mental Health Day because its strong central character Jessica suffers from bipolar disorder but isn’t defined by it. Since Stephen Fry’s flagship documentary, The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive, bipolar disorder has begun to lose its stigma. I don’t pretend that my novel will have the same impact but it does show a family affected by this disorder within a story of global settings and concerns. I hope that someone equally as prominent as Stephen Fry will publicise their personal experience of schizophrenia and other mental illnesses in order to break down prejudice.”
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