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Island in the East by Jenny Ashcroft

island in the east book cover

For fans of Victoria Hislop and Deborah Jeffries, this book is beautifully written and very evocative. It begins in Singapore in 1897 with the arrival of twins, Harriet and Mae Grafton. Their arrival causes great gossip among the British community as they appear to have quite a scandalous background. For the twins it means being flung into a new world, with a wealthy benefactor and new friends including the mysterious Alex Blake.

The story then flips to London in 1941 and we meet Ivy Harcourt, recovering from injuries both mental and physical from the Blitz. She can speak Japanese and therefore finds herself posted to Singapore. She feels a break from worn torn London may aid her recovery but her grandmother Mae, is much more cautious. Ivy arrives in Singapore just before the Japanese’s invasion and immediately meets strangers from her grandmother’s past which includes an unstoppable love affair and a shattering secret that has been waiting to be uncovered.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I particular liked the character of Ivy – quite a tough cookie. The author describes the Far East very well – you can feel the heat from the page and particularly the devastating Japanese invasion. A real emotional and absorbing read and I am definitely on the lookout for more books by this author.

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