I was thrilled to hear that one of my favourite authors has written another novel set in the East.
A heart-breaking novel of love and loss set in WW2 Singapore
This time-slip novel, set in Singapore, moves between the experiences of Lara in 2000 and those of her Malay grandmother, Suria, during the Japanese occupation in World War Two. Wondering why her mother had grown up in an orphanage, Lara is hoping that a beautiful amulet on a silver chain, kept by her mother all her life will lead her to discover its original owner. As Lara travels nervously to Malaysia and then Singapore, we meet Suria whose name was inscribed on the amulet.
Suria has left her small village on the Malay peninsula to find work in Singapore. That way she can send money to her mother who is sick. Unfortunately, she loses her job through no fault of her own and so reluctantly she accepts the help of British Army officer, Charles Simmonds to obtain a job at the famous Raffles Hotel. Circumstances throw the two together, but as the Japanese army approach, there can be no happy ending.
Lara is trying to come to terms with the fact that her mother had never seemed satisfied with her achievements and now she has died before they understood each other. Coming on her own to the Far East takes courage, and soon she is entangled in a fraudulent enterprise. However, she does have some success in locating the orphanage, but should she trust in the helpful young Australian she has just met?
Suria’s story is poignant and painful. She suffers badly and loses everything. She is such a believable character the reader naturally empathises with her predicament and as Lara gradually gains knowledge of her grandmother, she must have been proud.
The description of Singapore at the beginning of the 21st century is authentic and detailed, and the events of 1942 are accurate accounts of the experiences of the population of Singapore during the invasion. There is a feeling of redemption in Lara’s story which gives the book a feeling of hope for the future.
The Amulet released on October 15th
My Review of Ann Bennett’s Earlier novel set in occupied Singapore The Planter’s Wife