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How come no one else on Goodreads has read this book? Youre missing out, people!I had decided not to read any more books on the mistreatment of Prisoners of War (POWs) by the Japanese Imperial Army during WW2. After Alistair Urquharts The Forgotten Highlander and James Clavells King Rat (the latter is a work of fiction and is quite mild in comparison with the memoirs in the former), I thought Id read enough to have an idea of what happened and I didnt need to subject myself to any more gory details. Yes, but then I came across Faith, Hope and Rice and somehow found it too intriguing to leave. This book was compiled by the daughter of Fred Cox, one of the over sixty thousand unfortunate soldiers who were captured by the Japanese Army during the fall of Singapore in February 1942 and who spent the next three and a half years in a living nightmare. Unlike many of these soldiers who, like Alistair Urquhart for example, never talked about what theyd been through in front of their families, Private Cox did share (some of) his painful memories with his wife. They had met in a field hospital where she was working as a nurse shortly after he was released from captivity. That may have been why he thought she would at least begin to understand what hed been trough, and that he could tell her. He recovered physically, at least to some extent, but he couldnt shake off the avalanche of traumatic memories and was advised by a visionary doctor that talking about what had happened to him could help overcome the psychological burden he was suffering from. So by 1947, less than two years after his release from the Japanese POW camps, he had finished telling the story over a number of listening sessions with his wife who was skilled in shorthand and managed to write everything down while he offloaded his painful memories. The manuscripts were then revisited a few times but largely left untouched in a box until after Freds death, when his daughter, Ellie, edited them and compiled them in a book which came out in 2015. The story is told from Freds first-person point of view, but the book features an enlightening preface and postscript which enhance the whole picture with the additional layer of the daughters perspective on her Dad. The experiences described in the main narrative are painful and traumatic, giving an account of the horrible life of starvation, disease, lack of sanitation, beatings, brutality, and years of slave labour at Japanese POW camps in the Far East. Fred also talks about the devastating effect of the lack of control over your own destiny or even your own day-to-day existence, about not knowing what is in store for you tomorrow, and how that grinds you down. Having said that, a lot of the episodes somehow manage to end on a slightly positive note and as a result the whole story is not difficult to read. I suspect Fred didnt necessarily feel optimistic when he was in the thick of it, but that air must have come later when he was recollecting the events in the presence of his wife - for his own as well as for her sake. I couldnt help wondering how he must have felt sitting and talking about this to (or at) his wife. I got the impression that he probably wasnt putting the worst of his memories into words, and that he was sparing some of the trauma from her. I think he must have been trying to look ahead and somehow to reconcile the pain of the past with the present. So the main narrative of this book is in itself a valuable recording of those horrors which we hope will never happen again, but the addition of the unseen but instrumental presence of Freds wife and the daughters perspective make Faith, Hope and Rice a multi-layered and fascinating read.

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