Beautifully translated though it is, this novel will certainly split opinion. Set in Java in the late 1800s and early 1900s, it is the fictionalised account of one Dutch colonial family's attempts to create tea plantations in the unforgiving Indonesian jungles, with all the problems that this entails. The Dutch names and Javanese words would be a challenge to anyone, but there is a glossary at the back to assist the reader through the book.
That there was more to Batavia than white palatial homes became clear to Rudolf during the days that followed, while he waited for Herman Holle to take time off for travel. He went for long walks, more often than not on his own. Cateau would accompany him early in the morning, provided they kept to the shady avenues west of Koningsplein. They went down Tanah Abang to the cemetery, where they read the names on the tombs and headstones, and stood still for a while at little Pauline's grave.