Island in the East by Jenny Ashcroft

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Two great loves. One shattering betrayal. A war that changes everything.

Set in 1890s and 1940s Singapore, the stunning Island in the East is a story of love, sisterly rivalry and the true cost of betrayal. Vivid, authentic and utterly beautiful, it’s the perfect read for fans of Victoria Hislop, Fiona McIntosh and Kate Morton.

1897: twenty-year-old identical twins, Harriet and Mae, born from a scandalous affair, have spent their lives slighted by gossips. They’ve carried each other through the loneliness, believing that together they can survive anything. But then their mysterious benefactor sends them to Singapore to live with his relative, the watchful David Keeley, who will choose one of them to marry. In the tension of David’s house, a distance opens up between the twins, but it is only when they meet the handsome Alex Blake that their relationship truly fractures, resulting in a life-shattering betrayal with devastating consequences . . .

1941: Ivy, an intelligence officer with the women’s naval service and carrying her own ghosts from Blitz-torn London, is posted to wartime Singapore and arrives to the looming threat of a Japanese invasion. Nothing can prepare her for what’s waiting on the island – not the unexpected love, nor the strangers from her grandmother, Mae’s, past, and the shocking secrets that now echo down through the generations.

With a sizzling love affair playing out against this epic family drama, Island in the East is evocative, atmospheric and romantic historical fiction at its very best.

My Review

I couldn’t put down from the moment I started reading it. I kept trying to find a spot that I could finish reading for the night but there wasn’t one and before I knew it it was 6am and 79% through the book!

Beautifully written dual timelines and characters as well as the descriptions of Singapore making the heat and sounds of the place creep into your subconsciousness, it certainly transported me from my boyfriends front room to a much warmer place thankfully! ( He’s to tight to put the heating on! )

Set in two time frames in Singapore, it is the story of Ivy, a Wren translator sent there at the height of World War 2 and Harriet and Mae who lived there in the 1890s.

Harriet and Mae are identical twins sent to Singapore as young women by their benefactor and forced to live with David Keeley, who is a rather cold, unlikable character who becomes very obsessed with marrying Harriet which will insure his inheritance from the girls’ father.

Ivy, a Wren translator receives orders to leave London to go to Singapore to make use of her expertise in Japanese. After a traumatic event she jumps at the chance of a fresh start even though she has to leave her beloved Grandmother Mae , her only living relative. There she meets some of the people her Grandmother knew but why did Mae never mentioned her time on the island? And the there is Kit! An Australian officer who she starts to fall in love with him. Would either one survive the war?

Their stories are irrevocably linked, past and present becomes heartbreakingly intertwined as secrets come to light and loves and losses are revealed chapter by chapter.

Both plot strands were compelling and normally in a book written in this way one part of the time line tends to resonate more than the other but in this novel I loved both settings.

The capitulation of Singapore and the atrocities perpetrated by the invaders were wonderfully written with an obvious amount of research to do the subject justice and making it tragically real.

This is a novel that has a bit of everything – love, war, betrayal, heartbreak, tragedy, redemption and hope. And as clichéd as it is, I really do highly recommend it, particularly if you like historical romance with a lot of suspense.  This is by far the best book in this genre I have read for a long time!

And now that I have finished it … maybe I can catch up on my sleep!

Island in the East is out to buy now from

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