When Karen Connelly first goes to Burma in 1996 to gather information for a series of articles about political prisoners, she discovers a place of unexpected beauty and generosity. She also encounters a country ruled by a brutal military dictatorship that imposes a code of censorship and terror. Carefully seeking out the regimes critics, she witnesses mass demonstrations, attends protests, interviews detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and flees from the riot police herself. When it gets too risky to stay, Connelly flies back to Thailand, but she cannot leave Burma behind.
Her interest in the political turns more personal on the Thai-Burmese border, where she falls in love with Maung, the handsome and charismatic leader of one of the Burmas many resistance groups. After visiting Maungs military camp in the jungle, she faces an agonizing decision: Maung wants to marry Connelly and have a family with her, but if she marries him, she also weds his world and his lifelong cause. Struggling to weigh the idealism of her convictions against the harsh realities of life on the border, Connelly transports the reader into a world as dangerous as it is enchanting.
In prose layered with passion, regret, sensuality and wry humour, Burmese Lessons, a love story tells the captivating story of how one woman came to love a wounded, beautiful country as well as a gifted man who has given his life to the struggle for political change.
" Burmese Lessons shows us more than a place, or a person in a place: it shows us a way to be in the world: open, seeing, breathing, awake. "
-- Jamie Zeppa, The Literary Review of Canada