26 March 2019

The Missing Sister

book cover of The Missing Sister by Dinah Jefferies
Historical Fiction

By Dinah Jefferies

Paperback 320 pages
Publisher Penguin (21st Mar 2019)
ISBN-13 978-0241985434

'Dinah Jefferies has a knack of getting under the skin of her exotic locations and this story about loss and love, set in sultry Burma during the troubled 1930s, is no exception.' Kate Riordan

📕My Review

The Missing Sister isn't my usual sort of read but when I saw the beautiful cover and read the blurb, I was intrigued. What followed was an enchanting and, at times, heartbreaking story of a British baby, Elvira, stolen in 1911 from her parents' garden in Burma.

Gossip-mongers suspect the baby may have been killed by the mother, Diana, but no charges are brought. Diana gives birth to a second child, Belle, but unable to recover from the loss of Elvira and now suffering mental health issues, her husband packs her off to England with an understanding that it's in Belle's best interest she never sees her mother again.

Fast forward to 1936 and an adult Belle has accepted a job as a nightclub singer in Rangoon, Burma. With both parents now dead, she's determined to discover what happened to her sister all those years earlier - is she still alive and if so, what became of her? But when Belle starts asking questions, it soon becomes apparent Elvira's disappearance has been covered up. . .

Although I have all of Dinah Jefferies' previous novels on my bookcase, The Missing Sister is the first I've read. I was transported to another time and place with the author's beautiful, vivid descriptions. It felt authentic - I could smell the spices in the marketplace and feel the sun's heat beating down on me. The expressive and faultless writing will stay with me for a very long time.

Characterisation was superb; especially Belle and Diana. To have a child stolen and then be expected to pick up the pieces of a shattered life is beyond comprehension and without compassion. The pre-war British 'stiff upper lip' was excellently portrayed, with any hint of a scandal being swept under the carpet.

I thought this was a great piece of historical romantic fiction and it's opened my eyes to the possibility that actually yes, I probably do like this genre after all.                   

Book Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐

📗The Blurb

A stolen sister. A daughter determined to uncover the truth.

Belle Hatton has embarked upon an exciting new life far from home: a glamorous job as a nightclub singer in 1930s Burma, with a host of sophisticated new friends and admirers. But Belle is haunted by a mystery from the past - a 25 year old newspaper clipping found in her parents' belongings after their death, saying that the Hattons were leaving Rangoon after the disappearance of their baby daughter, Elvira.

Belle is desperate to find out what happened to the sister she never knew she had - but when she starts asking questions, she is confronted with unsettling rumours, malicious gossip, and outright threats. Oliver, an attractive, easy-going American journalist, promises to help her, but an anonymous note tells her not to trust those closest to her. . .

Belle survives riots, intruders, and bomb attacks - but nothing will stop her in her mission to uncover the truth. Can she trust her growing feelings for Oliver? Is her sister really dead? And could there be a chance Belle might find her?

📘The Author

author Dinah Jefferies
Dinah was born in Malaya in 1948 and moved to England at the age of nine. In 1985, the sudden death of her fourteen year old son changed the course of her life, and deeply influenced her writing. Dinah drew on that experience, and on her own childhood spent in Malaya during the 1950s to write her debut novel, The Separation. 

Now living in Gloucestershire with her husband and their Norfolk terrier, she spends her days writing, with time off with her grandchildren.

No comments: