Sunday, December 6, 2020

A Painter in Penang by Clare Flynn - Book Tour

A Painter in Penang by Clare Flynn @clarefly @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours 

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 unearths a shocking secret as her own life is put in danger. Throughout the turmoil, her one constant 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.

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 It had been three days since Jasmine had been hauled before the school principal and she’d still not summoned up the courage to tell her mother about her absenteeism, let alone that Reverend Mother had warned her that further infractions would lead to her expulsion. Every morning, she left the house and took the school bus to the convent, but didn’t attend classes, hiding out in the grounds until it was time to go home again.

Jasmine knew it was only a matter of time before the school contacted her parents. Her guilt was compounded by the exorbitant cost of the school fees. All that money going to waste while she frittered away her time lying on her back on the empty hockey pitch staring up at the sky or hiding out in the disused potting shed at the rear of the school grounds if a game was being played.

Jasmine was not a natural rebel but she couldn’t face being in class any longer. What had begun as the occasional skipped lesson had now become wholesale truanting. Right now, she should be listening to the droning voice of Sister Angelica as she bored her pupils to death with an uninspiring explanation of the Long Parliament and something called The Grand Remonstrance. What possible relevance did the politics of Stuart England have to a sixteen-year-old’s life? To anyone’s life, three hundred years later? It was all so pointless. So meaningless. So tedious.

The sun was getting hotter, so she rolled onto her side, and shuffled into the shade of a sausage tree. Fallen red blossoms carpeted the ground underneath the tree and Jasmine watched a procession of ants moving over them like a well-drilled regiment advancing into battle. Above her, dangling down were the as yet unripe ‘sausages’, the eponymous fruits which were much loved by baboons.

Jasmine gave in to an expansive yawn. She’d forgotten her sketch book. Not that she’d be drawing ugly old sausage trees. Besides, she was too anxious to concentrate right now.

School had been bearable at the beginning – when Katy Grenville had been there. Jasmine and Katy had both been new girls and formed an instant bond – possibly because they both felt like exiles who didn’t belong here. Katy had grown up in Bombay and missed India with the same nostalgic longing that Jasmine felt for Penang. Perhaps it was Katy who had incited Jasmine’s dissatisfaction and growing unhappiness, but over time they had each fed off the other’s misery, adopting a sense of superiority towards Kenya, their daily life at school and their fellow pupils.

And then, without warning, two months ago Katy was gone. Jasmine had never got to the bottom of exactly what happened. Never had a chance to ask Katy. The rumour circulating at school was that Katy’s parents, Nigel and Gwendoline, had been mixed up in a scandal. The sort of thing spoken of in hushed tones and causing uncontrollable smutty giggles. 

Author Bio

Historical novelist Clare Flynn is a former global marketing director and business owner. She now lives in Eastbourne on the south coast of England and most of her time these days is spent writing her novels – when she's not gazing out of her windows at the sea.

Clare is the author of eleven novels and a short story collection. Her books deal with displacement – her characters are wrenched away from their comfortable existences and forced to face new challenges – often in outposts of an empire which largely disappeared after WW2.

Her latest novel, Prisoner From Penang, was published on 17th April 2020. It is set in South East Asia during the Japanese occupation in World War Two.

Clare's novels often feature places she knows well and she does extensive research to build the period and geographic flavour of her books. A Greater World - 1920s Australia; Kurinji Flowers – pre-Independence India; Letters from a Patchwork Quilt – nineteenth century industrial England and the USA; The Green Ribbons – the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth century in rural England, The Chalky Sea - World War II England (and Canada) and its sequels The Alien Corn and The Frozen River - post WW2 Canada. She has also published a collection of short stories - both historical and contemporary, A Fine Pair of Shoes and Other Stories.

Fluent in Italian, she loves spending time in Italy. In her spare time she likes to quilt, paint and travel as often and as widely as possible. She is an active member of the Historical Novel Society, the Romantic Novelists Association, The Society of Authors, NINC and the Alliance of Independent Authors.

Get a free copy of Clare's exclusive short story collection, A Fine Pair of Shoes, at

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