Publication Date: 6th October 2020
Publisher: Cranbrook Press
Page Length: 362 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Sixteen-year-old Jasmine Barrington hates everything about living in Kenya and longs to return to the island of Penang in British colonial Malaya where she was born. Expulsion from her Nairobi convent school offers a welcome escape – the chance to stay with her parents’ friends, Mary and Reggie Hyde-Underwood on their Penang rubber estate.
But this is 1948 and communist insurgents are embarking on a reign of terror in what becomes the Malayan Emergency. Jasmine goes through testing experiences – confronting heartache, a shocking past secret and danger. Throughout it all, the one constant in her life is her passion for painting.
From the international best-selling and award-winning author of The Pearl of Penang, this is a dramatic coming of age story, set against the backdrop of a tropical paradise torn apart by civil war.
Buy Link: Amazon
Their layover in Ceylon was for four days and, since this trip was to be the start of a long separation, Evie decided to treat them to a stay at the Galle Face Hotel.
When they disembarked from the ship, Jasmine’s face lit up in a broad smile. ‘It’s so like Penang and Singapore!’ she cried. ‘It smells the same! It feels the same.’
As the taxi conveyed them from the port to the hotel, they passed white, colonnaded, colonial-style buildings and drove along tree-lined avenues, thronged with rickshaws and bicycles, as well as ox carts carrying wooden chests full of tea to the docks. The city of Colombo was built along the coast and waves crashed against the shore as the sun blazed down, intensifying the whiteness of the buildings and the vibrant splashes of colour of the saris worn by passing women.
The hotel was a grand Victorian building, a colonial palace looking out over the sea and over Galle Face Green, an open park area. With its terracotta-tiled roof, white stucco and broad colonnaded terrace, it reminded Evie of the Eastern & Oriental in Penang. Unlike the E&O, which had been used by the Japanese military during the occupation, the Galle Face had come through the war relatively unscathed, the island of Ceylon remaining under British control.
To Jasmine’s delight, they were shown to a room with an ocean view and she flung her arms around Evie. ‘Thank you, Mummy. This is such a treat.’
‘Well it could be months before we see each other again.’ She stroked her daughter’s long hair, praying that it would be months and not as she feared, years. ‘I want us to have some special time together.’
Jasmine plonked herself down on the end of the bed. ‘I’m sorry I’ve been such a disappointment to you.’
Evie sat beside her and drew her daughter close to her. ‘A disappointment? Never! Don’t ever think that, my darling.’
‘But getting expelled. Causing so much trouble. Hating being in Africa.’
‘All I want is for you to be happy, Jasmine.’ She held her gently above the elbows and looked into her eyes. ‘Seeing you so happy now shows me how miserable you’ve been in Nairobi. I should have paid more attention. I was so wrapped up in getting us all settled in, I didn’t notice that you were struggling so much. I was more worried about Hugh as he’s so small – but I should have known little boys adapt to anything as long as they’ve plenty to do.’
‘I simply didn’t fit in.’
‘I know. I do understand. But it’s all behind you now. You’ll have a wonderful experience in Penang. And then afterwards, we’ll see. You may feel completely differently by then. You may want to go to teacher training college or university. Who knows? Let’s take each day as it comes.’
Evie felt a sudden rush of sadness. She was losing something precious – the remains of her daughter’s childhood and the last stages of Jasmine’s transition to womanhood. That would be for Mary to witness. Evie bit her lip. ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do without you. I’m going to miss you so much.’
‘Me too. I’ll miss Hugh and Arthur too – but mostly you. And I promise I’ll write.’
Evie kissed the top of her head, breathing in the fresh scent of her daughter’s recently washed hair. ‘You’d better!’ she said.
Clare Flynn is the author of twelve historical novels and a collection of short stories. A former International Marketing Director and strategic management consultant, she is now a full-time writer.
Having lived and worked in London, Paris, Brussels, Milan and Sydney, home is now on the coast, in Sussex, England, where she can watch the sea from her windows. An avid traveller, her books are often set in exotic locations.
Clare is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a member of The Society of Authors, Novelists Inc (NINC), ALLi, the Historical Novel Society and the Romantic Novelists Association, where she serves on the committee as the Member Services Officer. When not writing, she loves to read, quilt, paint and play the piano. She continues to travel as widely and as far as possible all over the world.
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