I am pleased to be a blog hostess for A Painter in Penang –Penang Series, Book 3, by Clare Flynn–through The Coffee Pot Book Club. Here are some details about the book and the author, and following will be my review.
Sixteen-year-old Jasmine Barrington hates everything about living in Kenya and longs to return to the island of Penang in British colonial Malaya where she was born. Expulsion from her Nairobi convent school offers a welcome escape – the chance to stay with her parents’ friends, Mary and Reggie Hyde-Underwood on their Penang rubber estate.
But this is 1948 and communist insurgents are embarking on a reign of terror in what becomes the Malayan Emergency. Jasmine goes through testing experiences – confronting heartache, a shocking past secret and danger. Throughout it all, the one constant in her life is her passion for painting.
From the international best-selling and award-winning author of The Pearl of Penang, this is a dramatic coming of age story, set against the backdrop of a tropical paradise torn apart by civil war.
*Publication Date: 6th October 2020 *Publisher: Cranbrook Press *Page Length: 362 Pages *Genre: Historical Fiction
About the Author:
Clare Flynn is the author of twelve historical novels and a collection of short stories. A former International Marketing Director and strategic management consultant, she is now a full-time writer.
Having lived and worked in London, Paris, Brussels, Milan and Sydney, home is now on the coast, in Sussex, England, where she can watch the sea from her windows. An avid traveller, her books are often set in exotic locations.
Clare is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a member of The Society of Authors, Novelists Inc (NINC), ALLi, the Historical Novel Society and the Romantic Novelists Association, where she serves on the committee as the Member Services Officer. When not writing, she loves to read, quilt, paint and play the piano. She continues to travel as widely and as far as possible all over the world.
In the late 1940’s, sixteen-year-old Jasmine Barrington, with the permission of her step mother, transplants herself back to the country she loves—Penang. As she travels, Jasmine’s path crosses that of fellow traveler, Howard Baxter, also destined for Penang to work on a rubber plantation. Howard quickly becomes smitten with Jasmine, though she wants nothing to do with him.
Living with friends of her family, the Hyde-Underwoods, Jasmine relaxes in the tropical atmosphere she loves. Social events throw her together with Howard, but will she keep up her uninterested facade or fall to his honest charm?
Political tensions rise as Penang is caught in a communist uprising. A native man, Bintang, serving the Hyde-Underwoods poses for Jasmine, while she paints. She thinks of him as a kind of friend but will Bintang think the same of her, or will the past crimes against his family by whites cause him to join forces with the enemy?
Will her heart for Penang be enough to keep Jasmine with the Hyde-Underwoods, or will she travel out of the chaos of the political hotbed of Penang to safety?
Readers of coming of age and historical fiction will enjoy this well-painted, story portrait of an island country and a girl who holds Penang in her heart.
The likable but flawed characters kept me interested in the story. I have a fondness for learning about new places and time periods, and Flynn successfully painted tropical Penang through her descriptions and setting.
The ending dropped off a little for me. I would have liked to have had more of a completion of Jasmine’s story in an epilogue. One editorial choice I didn’t care for was the use of single quotation marks instead of double for dialogue. I think this makes a book more difficult to read.
Overall, A Painter in Penang was a pleasure to read and an engaging story with well-done dialogue. I thank the author for a complimentary copy of the book for me to read and review.