A story set against the backdrop of a historic prison-break in World War II era Philippines turns into an absorbing novel of love, sacrifice, and duty in David L. Robbins's Broken Jewel
. Robbins is known for his attention to historical accuracy, and his latest novel does not disappoint. Every aspect of the comfort women system, life in a Japanese internment camp, and details of the American march into Luzon are all perfectly integrated into a story about three struggling people caught in Los Baños.
A novel that could have devolved into a mere retelling of known historical events comes alive through the voices and tribulations of three central characters Remy Tuck, his son Talbot, and Carmen, a comfort woman. As with the rest of the camp, these three are held against their will, forced to inhabit lives they hate. Remy is the consummate gambler,...
Beyond the Book
Carmen's experience as a comfort woman in Los Baños was not an uncommon one for southeast Asian women during World War II. The system of brothels began in 1932. In the early stages, volunteer Japanese prostitutes were used until Japan's military expansion made it difficult to get volunteers. At this point, the military turned to coercing women in areas of Japanese occupation to join the system. The majority of the women were taken from Korea or China. It was believed that the risk of a Japanese soldier running into a sister or friend in a comfort station would have devastating effects, so comfort women - at least during the war - were exclusively recruited from outside Japan.