Jenni is a ghost-writer who is entrusted by Vincent Tregear to write his elderly mother’s memoirs, but in order to meet up with Klara, Jenni must return to Polvarth in Cornwall, a place which, for Jenni, holds some very unhappy memories.
On the surface, Jenni and Klara have little in common and yet under Jenni’s gentle questioning a common theme of love, loss and a lifetime of regret starts to emerge. Gradually, the story of Klara’s family life in Java unfolds. We learn about her early life on a Javan rubber plantation, and of an idyllic childhood, spent with family and friends. However, the Japanese invasion of the island during the Second World War changes Klara’s family forever and her incarceration in one of the notorious internment camps, with her mother and younger brother, is a forcible reminder of the evil that men do and of the fundamental need to survive.
Beautifully written, this sensitive and emotional read captures the stories of two very different women and yet manages to convey the extreme sadness of both their lives without ever resorting to over sentimentality. I am sure that reading groups will find much to discuss, not just about the emotional vulnerability of both women, but also of the history and circumstances which affected Java during the Pacific War in the Far East.
My thanks to newbooks for my copy of this book.
About the author
Isabel Wolff's ten bestselling novels are published worldwide. 'Ghostwritten', set in present day Cornwall and on wartime Java, was published in the UK in March 2014; 'The Very Picture of You' was published in the UK and the US in October 2011. 'A Vintage Affair', was an Amazon.co.uk 'Best of 2009' title and was shortlisted by the American Library Assocation for their Reading List awards (Women's Fiction).