|The White Pearl: A Novel|
March 5. 2012; Berkley Trade Paperback
Genre: historical novel, 1941 Malaya
Comments: Excellent storytelling and characters, with twists and turns in the plot in every chapter. The book also remains true to the history of the period when the British are overthrown in Malaya in 1941 by invading Japanese armies arriving by air, sea, and through the jungles. The book is a wonderful combination of adventure, war, romance, suspense, and history.
Malaya, 1941. Connie Thornton and her husband are among the fortunate British rubber plantation owners reaping the benefits of the colonial life. But Connie feels oppressed, crippled by boredom, sweltering heat, a loveless marriage. Then she is involved in a fatal car accident involving a Malay woman, who issues a chilling curse before dying.
Then, in December, the Japanese invade. Connie and her family flee with friends on their yacht "The White Pearl" toward Singapore, where they are sure the British will prevail. They learn that Singapore is under siege, and their boat is later taken over by a pirate craft and its Malayan crew making their perilous way from island to island. When a fighter plane crashes into the sea and they rescue its Japanese pilot, things become more real for Connie. In the suffocating confines of the boat with her life upended, Connie discovers her own strength, freedom from the past, and a new, unexpected but dangerous love.
I'm eager to read The Russian Concubine, Furnivall's previous novel set in Shanghai in the 1920s.