1953, the eve of the Cartwright’s departure from Malaya. Eleven-year-old Emma can’t understand why they’re leaving without their mother; why her taciturn father is refusing to answer questions.
Lydia arrives home to an empty house – there’s no sign of her husband Alec or her daughters. Panic stricken, she embarks on a dangerous journey to find them through the hot and civil-war-torn Malayan jungle – one that only the power of a mother’s love can help her to survive.
Not a book I would normally pick out from the shelves, I was very pleased that this book was brought to my attention and I had the opportunity to read it. I was hooked on this story from the moment I picked up the book and started to read.
The plot is compelling and in some places, it’s outright heartbreaking. The plot was paced so well. It’s told from two point of views – Lydia and her daughter Emma with each character taking up alternative chapters. I don’t think I can pick which character I preferred. To begin with, I was really interested in Emma’s part of the story but as the book went on, I couldn’t wait to read what happened to Lydia, who doesn’t seem to have much luck throughout the first half of the book especially as she tries to come to terms with tragedy and the idea of living without her children.
There were some characters that I didn’t like (Mr Oliver) and one in particular that was surprising (in a good way.)
There was also a mystery threaded throughout the book that I enjoyed trying to unravel.
It’s so atmospheric. Dinah’s descriptions of the settings were so vivid and well written that I felt as though I was there in the middle of the jungle before being taken away to the suburbs of an english town. I am not a mother but I felt Lydia’s loss throughout the book.
I was reading well into the night and as a result, I am still trying to catch up with the sleep I missed because I couldn’t put it down.
It was a beautiful story with big emotion. I loved it and I totally recommend it.
The Separation is published by Penguin in paperback and e-book and was released on 22nd May 2014.