My Mother-In-Law's Son

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My Mother-In-Law’s Son centres round a Peranakan woman, Swee Gek, who is in an abusive marriage but is constrained by the limitations of women in her time to take positive action.

Her marriage is further strained by Choy Yan, the eponymous Mother-In-Law of the title, whose values are archaic and patriarchal. Taking place in a 1949-1950 Singapore that is just recovering from the onslaught of the Japanese War, Swee Gek’s Chinese husband, Wong Kum Chong, is inadvertently drawn into anti-colonial activities by a communist agitator, Teng Xin Nan.

Narrated from the perspectives of these different characters, My Mother-In-Law’s Son is a revealing story of a Singapore and her people struggling to find their feet in the aftermath of a war. It also shows how people going through difficult circumstances can be susceptible to revolutionary ideas. Through Swee Gek’s personal fight against her oppressors, this novel also explores the meaning of love: whether love can be unconditional or is it always accompanied by possessiveness.



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“History comes alive in this riveting novel by Josephine Chia. It is more than sweet nostalgia. Set in post-war Singapore, Singaporeans who had lived through that difficult era will laugh, cry, sigh and nod in agreement as Josephine takes them back to the years when Singapore was struggling to rebuild itself, with the communists trying to win the hearts and minds of a people disillusioned with their colonial masters. For younger Singaporeans born after independence and students of Singapore's political and social history, this is an entertaining but important history lesson not to be missed. Covering the lives, struggles, emotions and ambitions of people from all walks of life and racial groups during this tumultuous time of political and economic change, Josephine provides an insight into what life was like before Singapore became a stable and prosperous nation. It is a novel, but it is very real.” − Julia d’Silva, Sub-Editor

“Josephine Chia has done it again; My Mother-in-Law’s son whisks you back to a crossroads in Singapore’s past when political identities were still being forged and a woman’s role was still to be wife and mother. Swee Gek is both gentle and fiercely loyal, and her intelligence cries out for more than tradition allows. But Singapore is changing...” − Sharon Couteau, English Trainer and Interpreter, France


Josephine Chia