The affair of the planter’s wife running off with her driver had been a burning topic in the British High Commission and clubs, and had even occupied several discreet paragraphs in the Straits Times …
It is 1930s Malaya and Valerie Mitchell, desparate to escape an unhappy marriage to Stuart, a rubber planter, a loner and a difficult man, instigates an adulterous affair with her Muslim chauffeur, Osman. Osman is already married to Minah, but he struggles to spurn the advances of his boss’s wife as she offers herself up to him at the plantation bungalow.
Valerie then takes the unprecedented step of going to live with Osman, his first wife and his mother in his kampung and she must cope with a way of life, culture and religion that is at considerable variance with her own. Events come to pass that shock both Valerie and the villagers and she soon finds herself spurned by both the Malay society she had hoped to adopt and British colonial society in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, which she has brought shame upon through her scandalous betrayal of British decorum.
About the author
Rob Holley lived and worked in Malaysia and Singapore in the 1950s and 60s and witnessed both the Emergency Period and the Confrontation with Indonesia.