About the Book

“Singapore’s history has been told many times but it has usually been framed by men and the stories are mostly of and about men.
This book of memories by Irene Lim covering nine decades of her life, spent in Singapore except for three wartime years in Malaya, gives us the perspective of that period as seen through her day-to-day life and that of her extended family. It offers a tantalising view of what women felt and experienced about the world around them at that time.

We begin to appreciate how history is not only made by dramatic national events but by the stuff of daily existence. This book brings richly to life the social and cultural half of history that for too long has been forgotten, untold or ignored, giving us a more holistic picture of our human, and Singapore, story.
The life course of this resilient and creative woman also shows us the promise of longevity can be fulfilled by leading an independent life of purpose and productive activity. I really enjoyed reading the book. I could hardly put it down until I reached the end."

— Dr. Kanwaljit Soin, orthopaedic and hand surgeon, and advocate for improving the lives of women and the elderly


“While reading Irene Lim’s memoirs, I could not help but feel like I was listening to my grandmother sharing stories of her fascinating childhood and growing up years with me. These are stories of a Singapore and Malaya now largely gone but still deeply etched in the memories of so many. Irene Lim’s amazing memories of those bygone years are vividly captured in the many charming vignettes woven lovingly into her pacey narrative. An absolute gem of a book."

— Dr. Kevin Y.L. Tan, law professor, and past President, Singapore Heritage Society and International Council for Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) (Singapore)


“Accompanied by wonderful private family photos, Irene Lim's memoir fills the textures of our understanding of myriad aspects of everyday life, places, people and institutions in Singapore, by skillfully weaving many fine details into a captivating read. Spanning over a century of family history, this story richly illustrates what the broader themes of overseas Chinese, particularly Straits Chinese, history in Malaya and the region, was like at the level of lived histories. So much echoes what I heard from my own grandmother, and of my own family history."

— Dr. Chua Ai Lin, historian and Executive Director, Singapore Heritage Society


“I cannot express how happy I am finally to see the birth of this book which Irene and I have talked so much about for years. We had the same upbringing, and the collection of photos really brings me back."

— Yeap Joo Kim, author, The Patriarch (1975)



About the Author

Irene Lim's family has lived in Singapore since the 1880s. She herself has lived here since infancy, except for three years in Bukit Mertajam and Penang, Malaya during the Japanese Occupation. Irene attended Raffles Girls' School in the 1930s and early 1940s, and was an active member of Wesley Methodist Church since 1948. She married Lim Hee Seng, an accountant, raised three daughters in the 1950s through early 1970s, and has had an active social life in the rapidly changing city over nine decades.


About the Contributors

Linda Lim is Professor Emerita at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, where she also served a term as Director of the Centre for Southeast Asian Studies in the International Institute. A Singaporean economist, her most recent books are Singapore’s Economic Development: Retrospection and Reflections (edited, 2016) and Business, Government and Labour: Essays in the Economic Development of Singapore and Southeast Asia (2018), both from World Scientific Publishing in Singapore.

Loh Kah Seng is a historian of Singapore and an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia. He is the author of Squatters into Citizens: The 1961 Bukit Ho Swee Fire and the Making of Modern Singapore (NUS Press 2013) and Tuberculosis—The Singapore Experience, 1867-2018: Disease, Society and the State (with Hsu Li Yang, Routledge 2020). He runs Chronicles Research and Education, a research consultancy on the rich and varied heritages of Singapore—housing, industrial, medical, culinary, and economic.



Title: 90 Years in Singapore

Author: Irene Lim

ISBN: 978-981-14-6578-9

Book Size: 220mm x 150mm (portrait)

Pages: 248

Weight: 352g

Price: S$20.00

Year: 2020

Finish: Paperback

Genre: Non-fiction, Memoir

Edition: International


SKU: 9789811465789