Sunday, 28 September 2014

Review: Return To Mandalay by Rosanna Ley

***** 5 Stars

This was the first book that I have read by Rosanna Ley & it certainly won't be the last. Initially I was drawn to the book by the beautiful, vibrant cover and upon reading the blurb I knew that it was my kind of book.

The Blurb

Eva Gatsby has often wondered about her grandfather Lawrence's past, and exactly what happened to him in Burma during the Second World War. But it is only when Eva's job as an antiques dealer suddenly requires a trip to Mandalay that Lawrence finally breaks his silence and asks her to return a mysterious artefact of his own - a chinthe - to its rightful owner.

As Eva arrives in Burma her mission soon proves dangerously complicated, and the treasure she is guarding becomes the centre of a scandal that will have far-reaching consequences. Caught between loyalty and integrity, Eva is determined to find the truth about her grandfather's past, of her own family origins, and of the red-eyed chinthe itself - enigmatic symbol of the riches of Mandalay.

My Thoughts

Eva Gatsby, is an antiques dealer working for a company based in Bristol. When she is offered the chance to go to Mandalay to view some antiques for her employer she jumps at the opportunity. She knows a little about Burma, now Myanmar from her grandfather, Lawrence who worked out their before the Second World War for a logging company and then left after the war was over. She is eager to go a visit where her grandfather lived and to see the country for herself.

When she tells Lawrence that she will be going to Mandalay he asks her to return an heirloom to a woman he once knew when he lived in Burma. It turns out that the woman in question was the love of his life and he had merely settled for his wife, Eva's grandmother out of some misguided loyalty. He never returned to Mandalay but not a day had gone by when he hadn't thought about his lost love, writing letters to her that he never sent. The heirloom an antique chinthe with glowing eyes is part of a pair and part of Burma's royal history and Lawrence desperately wants it returned to where it belongs.

Also in the story is Eva's mother, Lawrence's daughter. She is now living in Denmark having left her life in Dorset not long after she lost Eva's father and her mother. When Eva's grandmother died her mother found some of the letters that Lawrence had written and is left devastated. She moves to Denmark with her new husband and distances herself from both her daughter and her father still wrapped up in the grief of her own lost love.

Unfortunately for Eva she stumbles right into the middle of a smuggling operation that puts her life in danger.

Ley's writing left me totally immersed along with Eva in a different world, Ley's descriptions bringing the sights and smells of Mandalay to life. I personally enjoyed Ley's writing style but I have seen other reviewers describe it as simple and that the book is one step up from a Mills & Boon. Sometimes I like simple, I want the story to tell itself and I don't want the beauty to be overshadowed by big words or convoluted sentences. Sometimes I just want an easy read that I can lose myself in, all the better if it is set in an exotic location such as Mandalay.

I found the book rich with Burma's history and culture, and uncovered for me a country that I knew very little about. Ley, truly captures the beauty of Burma, exploring the teak industry, the discontent and how Burma is now recovering from years of dictatorship. Ley writes about the history alongside a love story in the past and another in the present. She looks at the many different aspects of family relationships and how complicated those relationships can become.

I found the book totally engaging and Ley sets a good pace from the beginning. I found myself caring about the characters, feeling so sorry for Lawrence and his lost love, that things never worked out for them. I loved the contrast between the past and the present and the element of crime just adds an extra layer of intrigue.

A thoroughly enjoyable book, that was a perfect holiday read

No comments:

Post a Comment