Valentine’s Day Special

Singapore Shelf: The thread that binds us

In a Valentine's Day edition of this monthly feature, The Sunday Times lines up three new home-grown books about love

Editors Anitha Devi Pillai (left) and Felix Cheong (right) contributed stories to A View Of Stars. PHOTOS: BINOD THERAT, ST FILE



Edited by Anitha Devi Pillai and Felix Cheong

Marshall Cavendish/Paperback/254 pages/$19.99/Major bookstores

In 1933 Penang, a debutante's incredible shoes are the talk of the town, but she keeps the identity of her shoemaker a secret.

In present-day Singapore, a New Zealand expatriate, faced with an unplanned pregnancy during seventh month, attends a getai concert.

In a future where the flora of the world are endangered species, a young woman with a green thumb called Ixora enrols in flower school.

This anthology is filled with star-crossed love stories by local authors, from veterans Robert Yeo and Meira Chand to recent debut writers such as Linda Collins, Yeoh Jo-Ann and Inez Tan.

Many of these tales are inspired by real love stories. Editors Anitha Devi Pillai and Felix Cheong both contributed stories from their families.

Cheong, 55, did not know how his late parents met until his father's wake. There, he heard the story of their Geylang kampung meet-cute from his father's old friend. Cheong glimpsed in this the pattern of a romcom and set about fleshing it out in the story, How I Met Your Mother.

Pillai, an applied linguist in her 40s who works at the National Institute of Education, based her story An Unusual Arrangement on how her grandmother left Kerala, India, to join her husband in Singapore right before the Japanese invaded during World War II.

She recalls a Malayalam phrase her father quoted her grandmother as saying: "Come what may, my life is with him."

"I think that's the most romantic gesture in the world," she says. "In a pandemic, when one is bombarded by news of chaos and people are separated from one another, we hope this book brings them hope and comfort."

Cheong adds: "Hopefully, A View Of Stars will help the reader realise the universal truth in poet Philip Larkin's famous line: 'What will survive of us is love.'"



Edited by Ow Yeong Wai Kit and Genevieve Wong

Poetry Festival Singapore/Paperback/128 pages/$23.54/Books Kinokuniya

Inspired by National Gallery Singapore's artworks, 34 poets - from veterans like Edwin Thumboo to up-and-comers like Theophilus Kwek - pen musings on love and life.



By Rosie Wee

Candid Creation Publishing/Paperback/220 pages/$28.89/Books Kinokuniya

Before Min Joon leaves to fight the Japanese in World War II, he gives his lover Leng half of a jade pendant, promising that he will carry the other half and they will be reunited when the war is over.

But when he returns, she has married someone else.

Twenty-seven years later, Leng's daughter Jeanette interviews Min Joon for the history book she is publishing and discovers a decades-old secret.

Rosie Wee, a retired secondary school department head of English and literature, based her debut novel on her late mother's journal and a stack of letters written to a man who was not her father.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 14, 2021, with the headline Singapore Shelf: The thread that binds us. Subscribe