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Book Review: by Lang Reid
The Angel of Bang Kwang Prison
local production from Maverick House publishers this week, with The Angel of
Bang Kwang Prison (ISBN 978-1-905379-32-3) written by Susan Aldous with
Nicola Pierce, arriving.
In essence, this is the story of a young Australian tearaway who comes good,
written by the tearaway herself (Susan Aldous). However, this is no “and
they all lived happily ever after” kind of tale. In many ways it is a primer
for those who want to see how to deal with life’s problems, both those
initiated by ourselves, and those which are thrown upon us.
Initially the book appears almost over the top with descriptions of Susan’s
teenage years. Surely no young woman could be so rebellious, especially as
she had very forgiving parents, even though they were adoptive parents.
However, having experienced a totally unruly teenaged step-daughter myself,
I could understand this was someone telling it how it really was – warts and
all. And it may shock some readers. Be warned.
A watershed happened when she was a late teenager, and she turned to a
religious Christian group and fell in with them. She learned unselfish care
for others, the complete antithesis of her previous lifestyle. She also put
her trust in others, and believed that somehow, someone would provide. And
be that directed from above or otherwise, somehow, someone has done just
that. All her life.
As well as documenting (in a non judgmental way) life for inmates of a Thai
prison, author Susan Aldous also allows the reader to enter her very
innermost thoughts and emotions, as she forms a relationship with an
incarcerated American drug addict. This relationship builds up into a true
emotional attachment, known to everyone as an all-consuming love. It is
however, not a description of being besotted, but again an in depth look one
of the primary emotions that differentiates between us beings at the top of
the food chain and other inhabitants of the planet.
The love story that survives through the bars of a prison for eight years is
surely the stuff of “happily ever after” – but it is not, and with self
revealing frankness Author Aldous shows how emotional bonds can be broken,
especially where convoluted, drug induced thinking is involved.
The final chapter is probably the deepest revelation of the author’s true
character. Written by her own daughter, it continues the warts and all look
at life. The penultimate page contains the daughter’s description, “My
mother is a classic example of a strong woman, a real woman, because, of
course she is not perfect and she is not a saint and no, she does not
flitter above us all with perfumed farts and angelic melodies to thrill all
who suffer. In fact she’s tone deaf and a terrible singer. But, she does try
her damnedest to make a difference and she does genuinely care about
This is not a book showing the negative side of life, but is undoubtedly
inspirational in the tale of this woman’s journey which eventually brought
her to Bangkok and the Bang Kwang prison. At B. 495, it is an inexpensive
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