24 January 2020

The Pearl of Penang by Clare Flynn : reviewed by J.J Toner

Shortlisted for Book Of The Month


The Pearl of Penang by [Flynn, Clare]

"
Storytelling at its best.

One of the best stories I’ve read this year. "

Amazon UK
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Family Drama / Romance
1939 / WWII
Penang, Malaya

' "Following the death of my wife, I am in need of support and companionship. I am prepared to make you an offer of marriage." 'Evie Fraser, paid companion to a crotchety spinster, seems destined for a lonely life. Then out of the blue, a marriage proposal arrives by post. She met the handsome Douglas Barrington just once – at his wedding – but never forgot him. Now widowed, plantation-owner Douglas offers her a new life on the lush, exotic island of Penang. How can Evie resist? But what are Barrington’s motives in marrying Evie when he barely knows her, and why is he so hostile and moody? Evie soon finds herself pitched against Douglas on the one hand and the shallow, often spiteful world of the expatriate British on the other. Has she made the biggest mistake of her life? Flynn’s tenth novel explores love, marriage, the impact of war and the challenges of displacement – this time in a tropical paradise as the threat of the Japanese empire looms closer. '

Storytelling at its best.
One of the best stories I’ve read this year. Evie (twenty-seven) flies to Penang, Malaya in 1939 after receiving a proposal of marriage in the mail from Doug (thirty-nine). She met and danced with Doug at his first wedding twelve years earlier. What an interesting premise this is, full of potential, which Ms Flynn exploits to the hilt. 

Doug is the owner of two rubber plantations on the British colony. The early months are hard for Evie. The climate is challenging and Doug is not easy to get on with; his only interest in the marriage is his desire for a son and heir. Doug has a seven-year-old daughter called Jasmine whom Evie takes under her wing. Then she gets pregnant. 

When Evie meets Arthur, Doug’s closest friend and Veronica, Arthur’s obnoxious, interfering wife, the adventure starts in earnest. The war breaks out in Europe, and not long after the attack on Pearl Harbour, in 1941, the Japanese invade Malaya. The European population is evacuated to Singapore. From there, the women with children are shipped to Australia. Those left behind are interned in Japanese camps. 

This story is such a smooth, easy read by an accomplished author. 

Highly recommended. 

© J J Toner
e-version reviewed




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