Stranger in My Heart
by Mary Monro
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Stranger In My Heart (with foreword by HRH The Princess Royal) is about the search for understanding oneself, answering the question “Who am I?” by seeking to understand the currents that sweep down the generations, eddy through one’s own persona and continue on – palpable but often unrecognised. Mary's father fought at the Battle of Hong Kong in December 1941, was taken prisoner by the Japanese and then escaped in February 1942, making his way across 1200 miles of inhospitable country to reach China’s wartime capital at Chongqing. Seventy years later she retraced his steps in an effort to understand a man who had died when she was 18, leaving a lot of unanswered questions behind. This book is the quest that Mary undertook to explore her father’s life, in the context of the Pacific War and our relationship with China.
A picture of a man of the greatest generation slowly unfolds, a leader, a 20th Century Great, but a distant father. As she delves into his story and research the unfamiliar territory of China in the Second World War, the mission to get to know the stranger Mary called ‘Dad’ resolves into a mission to understand how her own character was formed. As she travel across China, the traitsshe received from her father gradually emerge from their camouflage. The strands of the story are woven together in a flowing triple helix, with biography, travelogue and memoir punctuated with musings on context and meaning.