In my teenage years, when I first read Somerset Maugham’s The Letter, I was intrigued to discover that he had based it on Ethel Proudlock’s trial in Kuala Lumpur in 1911. She was the first white woman to be charged with murder in Malaya. She claimed that the man she had shot dead had tried to rape her in her home.
The House of Doors is about many things, but at the heart of it all, it is really about the acts of creation: how Maugham had come to hear about the trial, and how he had transmuted it into his story. It’s about the power of stories, how they can transcend cultures and borders, transcend even time itself.
― Tan Twan Eng, Interview, The Booker Prizes
What booksellers are saying about The House of Doors
- I walked the streets of Penang along side Somerset Maugham. I felt the rough paths beneath my feet, as the clatter of Mah jong tiles felll from a doorway. We were on our way to the House of Doors. My fingers caressed the worn wood of its front door. But neither of us gained entry. Entry was reserved for others. This is a rare book. All my senses were captured by Tan Twan Eng. The pages glowed with atmosphere as the story propelled me into the lives of Cassawary House. Best book I’ve read this year.
― Trish O’Neill, MacIntosh Books & Paper in Sanibel, FL | Buy from Macintosh Books & Paper
- Gorgeously written with strong characters telling the tale of Malaysia between the two wars. Who knew I needed to know all of this. We sometimes focus on what happened to us. This story will get right under your skin. I am a huge fan of Somerset Maughn and loved this story that drops him in there. Based on real events you are invited into this world and you won’t be the same!
― Suzanne Lucey from Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, NC | Buy from Page 158 Books
- Nobody transports a reader in time and place like Tan Twan Eng. Bringing the same beautiful, lyrical writing as he did in The Gift of Rain and The Garden of Evening Mists, he sends readers back in time to 1921 when writer Somerset Maugham arrives in Penang at a crossroads in life. The House of Doors reads like a magical look back in time into the life of one of my favorite writers as well as an entirely new story whose layers unfurl one a time, revealing an overlapping web of love, friendship, power and more.
― Beth Seufer Buss from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC | Buy from Bookmarks
About Tan Twan Eng
Tan Twan Eng was born in Penang but lived in various places in Malaysia as a child. His first novel, The Gift of Rain, was longlisted for the 2007 Man Booker. His second, The Garden of Evening Mists, was a major international bestseller, shortlisted for the 2012 Man Booker, and winner of the Man Asia Literary Prize 2012 and the Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction. It was adapted into an award-winning film in 2019, directed by Tom Lin. Twan divides his time between Malaysia and South Africa.