The Last Kestrel – Jill McGivering
Ellen Thomas, an experienced war correspondent, returns to Afghanistan’s dangerous Helmand Province on assignment, keen to find the murderer of her friend and translator, Jalil. In her search for justice in a land ravaged by death and destruction, she uncovers disturbing truths.
Hasina, forced by tradition into the role of wife and mother, lives in a village which is taken by British Forces. Her only son, Aref, is part of a network of underground fighters and she is determined to protect him, whatever the cost.
Ellen and Hasina are thrown together – one fighting for survival, the other searching for truth – with devastating consequences for them both.
The Flower Boy – Karen Roberts
The Buckwater family live side-by-side with their Ceylonese staff in a house nestled in the lush hillside tea estates of ’30s Ceylon. Premawathi is their cook and housekeeper. She has two beautiful daughters and a son, Chandi, who even at four-years-old is bright, inventive and more mischievous than his young harried mother can sometimes cope with.
As the novel opens Elsie Buckwater, an embittered woman is giving birth to her third baby. Chandi is enchanted by the idea of making an English friend and he christens her Rose-Lizzie after the flowers he loves. But the discontented Elsie imposes a stifling and unhappy atmosphere on the household and forbids Chandi to go near her baby daughter, whom she herself largely ignores. Eventually, however, she packs her bags and returns to England. Without her, life at the bungalow flourishes.
Last Train to Paris – Michele Zackheim
1935. Rose Manon, an American daughter of the mountains of Nevada, working as a journalist in New York, is awarded her dream job, foreign correspondent. Posted to Paris, she is soon entangled in romance, an unsolved murder, and the desperation of a looming war. Assigned to the Berlin desk, Manon is forced to grapple with her hidden identity as a Jew, the mistrust of her lover, and an unwelcome visitor on the eve of Kristallnacht. And . . . on the day before World War II is declared, she must choose who will join her on the last train to Paris.
Olivia & Sophia – Rosie Milne
When Raffles sets sail from the cold, damp confines of Georgian London to make his name and fortune in the tropics, he takes with him his new wife, Olivia, a raffish beauty with a scandalous past. She infatuates both his closest friend, a poet and one of his bitterest rivals, a soldier. Raffles sees what is going on, but he turns a blind eye – or so hopes Olivia.
After Olivia’s death, and back on leave in London, Raffles, a man once again in need of a wife, makes a practical marriage. Sophia, no beauty, but curious and intelligent, embraces the opportunity of an exciting life abroad. Marriage brings her great joy but also great sadness. Her life with Raffles becomes a catalogue of loss: of their children, of their possessions, of their savings.
And all the while, Raffles, driven and talented, manoeuvres at the centre of global networks of power, trade, politics and diplomacy. His scheming culminates, to his eventual glory, with the founding of a new trading post: Singapore.
City of Small Blessings – Simon Tay
A Singaporean retires, migrates and then returns. But, he slowly finds, there is no simple return to the place called home. Once a well-known public figure who contributed to the country, he is now outside the rush of workdays, on the fringe of the city he barely recognises, distanced from his wife and son, even as he loves them. A letter comes from the government and he begins the journey. In the present, he must find a way to face the new men of authority. In the past, he must confront old sacrifices and struggles. He regrets. He loves. He cycles and discovers…