When I'm travelling, I love to read books associated with the country I'm visiting. On a recent trip to Australia and New Zealand, we stopped over in Hong Kong. I'd just bought Jojo Moyes' first novel, Sheltering Rain, and was amazed to find out that it started right there, so it was the perfect book to read.
Here is Hong Kong, looking down from The Peak: a city bristling with skyscrapers, very different from the sight Joy Leonard would have seen back on Coronation Day, 1953, when she met Edward Ballantyne, a young naval officer.
It is the story of four women: Alice, Joy's mother, disappointed by her own life in the colony; Kate, Joy's daughter, smarting from a string of unsuitable relationships; Sabine, Joy's granddaughter, growing up and discovering love; and of course, Joy herself, and the secret she has kept through the years which has affected all their lives.
The action takes place in Hong Kong in the 1950s; in Ireland, where Joy and Edward have settled; and in London, where Kate and Sabine are living at the beginning of the story.
For a first novel, Jojo Moyles has an incredible writing style, drawing you into the story and involving you with the characters so you feel that you are living right in that damp, old house in Ireland with them.
As in The Horse Dancer, a later novel by Jojo Moyles reviewed here, horses play an important part, especially the relationship between them and the young girl in the story. Here, the character of Sabine, aged sixteen, is captured perfectly, and you are right beside her as she rides to her first hunt clutching the mane of her little grey horse.
As you know, I am a great fan of Jojo Moyes, and I really enjoyed this book.
Have you been to Hong Kong? Do you have a favourite book that is set there?
To celebrate the May Day Bank Holiday weekend, whether it rains or shines, I'm offering a FREE DOWNLOAD of my book of Twelve Super Summer Stories, Postcards and Suntan Cream from 8am Friday, 3rd May 2013 to 8am Tuesday 7th May 2013, British Summer Time. Just click on the book cover at the top of the page!