Belle Hatton has embarked upon an exciting new life far from home: a glamorous job as a nightclub singer in 1930s Burma, with a host of sophisticated new friends and admirers. But Belle is haunted by a mystery from the past – a 25 year old newspaper clipping found in her parents’ belongings after their death, saying that the Hattons were leaving Rangoon after the disappearance of their baby daughter, Elvira.
Belle is desperate to find out what happened to the sister she never knew she had – but when she starts asking questions, she is confronted with unsettling rumours, malicious gossip, and outright threats. Oliver, an attractive, easy-going American journalist, promises to help her, but an anonymous note tells her not to trust those closest to her. . .
Belle survives riots, intruders, and bomb attacks – but nothing will stop her in her mission to uncover the truth. Can she trust her growing feelings for Oliver? Is her sister really dead? And could there be a chance Belle might find her?
What I Thought:
I’ve been lucky enough to take part in blog tours celebrating the last two of Dinah Jefferies’ historical novels. Each is set in Asia, as is The Missing Sister, another charming story but this time with more of a touch of mystery thrown in.
The main character, Belle is young and impressionable, but has recently learned that her older sister disappeared, aged only 3 weeks, in Rangoon, Burma. Her mother, who has since passed away, was accused of harming the baby, but Belle can’t bring herself to believe this. As she struggles in find out more information it isn’t clear who she should trust but someone will stop at nothing to make sure she never learns the truth.
As with Dinah Jefferies’ other novels, The Missing Sister is an impeccably researched period piece showing the height of British colonialism and all the things that that has come to stand for. It shows a long-passed period of time which I think we can agree is all for the better.
The scenic descriptions within the book are excellent and when you read about the research trips that Dinah Jefferies has made, they become all the more authentic – in particular the section with a hot air balloon ride over the ruins at Bagan.
There is a solid mystery plot running through this novel, as Belle tries to work around the bureaucrats in charge of Burma to find out about her sister, helped by a handsome American reporter, and it resolves in a very unexpected way, which was very well done.
Throughout the book, interwoven chapters are written by Belle’s mother Diana as she explores her own failing memory and poor mental health to discover whether it was in fact her who hurt her baby which adds an interesting aspect to the book, and shines a light on how far we have come in the acceptance and treatment of poor mental health.
As I’m sure I have said in my previous reviews of her books, Dinah Jefferies’ books are excellent and well worth catching up with – I think I have only two that I’ve not yet read and they are definitely on my list for the near future.
This post is part of a blog tour celebrating the publication of The Missing Sister. Why not check out some of the other fantastic blogs below for exclusive content and more reviews?
Please note: I was sent a copy of this book for review. All opinions are, as ever, my own.