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Summary

Shortlisted for the Irish Book Award for Popular Fiction Book of the Year.

USA Today best seller. Inspired by true events.

China, 1941. 

With Japan’s declaration of war on the Allies, Elspeth Kent’s future changes forever. When soldiers take control of the missionary school where she teaches, comfortable security is replaced by rationing, uncertainty and fear.

Ten-year-old Nancy Plummer has always felt safe at Chefoo School. Now the enemy, separated indefinitely from anxious parents, the children must turn to their teachers – to Miss Kent and her new Girl Guide patrol especially – for help. But worse is to come when the pupils and teachers are sent to a distant internment camp. Unimaginable hardship, impossible choices and danger lie ahead.

Inspired by true events, this is the unforgettable story of the life-changing bonds formed between a young girl and her teacher, in a remote corner of a terrible war. 

Published in the USA and Canada under the title When We Were Young & Brave.

©2020 Hazel Gaynor (P)2020 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"Moving and authentic." (Dinah Jefferies)

"Beautiful...warm, loveable characters who had me rooting for them all the way." (Tracy Rees)   

"An absolute treat." (Liz Nugent)

What listeners say about The Bird in the Bamboo Cage

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Enid Blyton type story

I thought I’d like this story going on the blurb but good lord it’s far too much like an Enid Blyton story for teenage girls, all girl guides and brownies and the ‘best of British’ nonsense. However the storyline is very good and seems to have been well researched, I liked the visuals given as I don’t know much about China or the Japanese occupation. Really can’t give more than 3 stars

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Couldn't stop listening.

What a thought provoking story. It stays with you long after the last chapter.
We could all do with a Miss Kent, to help us through difficult times.
I absolutely loved this book. The narrator, made this story come alive, how she managed all the different accents, is amazing.
I was so sorry it had to end, I felt as though I had lost some very dear friends.

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Beautiful

Lovely story excellently preformed. I feel like I learned a bit about what it was like. War stories that follow civilians give you so much when it comes to understanding your what happened.

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brilliant book really enjoyed it

I loved this book from start to finish the description of places and situations was incredible and I felt I could really see the places. Great book

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Exceptional

i have thoroughly enjoyed all of Ms Gaynor's books thus far, this being one of my favourites.

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familiar story

the narration and accents was lovely.
the story was similar to Empire of the Sun
which is one of my favourites so that was alright.
I look forward to reading more from this author.

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amazing amazing amazing

A harrowing and beautiful story, beautifully read and punctuated, it will stay with me for some time

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Very moving and good narration

I couldn't stop reading this book despite bringing me to tears on several occasions. Having not seen my mother and family throughout the lockdown this story brought everything into perspective. Well written and narrated. I wonder if the Brownie and Guide movement is still as strong? I hope so. I would love to see this as a film.