The Last Lesson of Mrs de Souza – Cyril Wong
One last time and on her birthday, Rose de Souza is returning to school to give a final lesson to her classroom of secondary school boys before retiring from her long teaching career.
What ensues is an unexpected confession in which she recounts the tragic and traumatic story of Amir, a student from her past who overturned the way she saw herself as a teacher, and changed her life forever.
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.
Kappa Quartet – Daryl Qilin Yam
Kevin is a young man without a soul, holidaying in Tokyo; Mr Five, the enigmatic kappa, is the man he so happens to meet. Little does Kevin know that kappas—the river demons of Japanese folklore—desire nothing more than the souls of other humans. Set between Singapore and Japan, Kappa Quartet is split into eight discrete sections, tracing the rippling effects of this chance encounter across a host of other characters, connected and bound to one another in ways both strange and serendipitous. Together they ask one another: what does it mean to be in possession of something nobody has seen before?
Art Studio – Yeng Pway Ngon, translated by Goh Beng Choo and Guan Liang Loh
Singapore, 1980s: Amid the tumult of political promise and upheaval, Yan Pei and his students struggle to pursue art in a rented studio. Yan Pei, a penniless artist, sacrifices more than his marriage to perfect his craft. His student Si Xian makes an irrevocable decision after Ning Fang, the subject of his unrequited love, leaves him for India. Jian Xiong gives up art – and his humanity – when communist politics force him to flee into the Malayan jungle.
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…
The Trader’s Wife – Anna Jacobs
Singapore in the 1860s is exotic and yet terrifying for a penniless Englishwoman, alone and vulnerable after her mother’s death. Too pretty to obtain a governess’s job, Isabella Saunders accepts an offer from a Singapore merchant to teach him English and live with his family.
Two years later Bram Deagan arrives in Singapore, determined to make his fortune as a trader. Mr Lee sees a way to expand his business connections and persuades Isabella to marry Bram.
Bravely, she sets sail for a new land and life. But the past casts a long shadow and together they face unexpected dangers. Will they find a way to achieve their dreams of a successful trading business?
Oh definitely! Sleep trumps reading any day….
Books ARE the only true magic!
Oh yes!! I live in books more than in reality…
When we read a really good book, when we get engrossed in a good book, the world feels more beautiful!